More people throughout the U.S. are choosing cremation instead of burials for their end of life decision than ever before. In 2015, and for the first time ever, the cremation rate surpassed burials in the U.S. with more than half of Americans choosing to be cremated. The National Funeral Director’s Association projects that this trend will accelerate and that over 80% of Americans will choose cremation by 2030 (up from just 50% in 2015 and 25% in 1999). There are many reasons for this dramatic shift in preference, with the main driver being cremation cost - it is much more affordable than burial. Also, families are simply less traditional than in the past and many are interested in new, special ways to give back and celebrate a loved one’s life after a cremation. For these reasons, biodegradable urns and other eco-friendly memorial options involving cremated ashes are surging in popularity.
Biodegradable Urns: What are my options?
There are many biodegradable urns on the market today with more being introduced each year. Some biodegradable urns will grow trees, while others are designed to gracefully scatter ashes or be buried. Below we’ve highlighted some of the most popular biodegradable urns offered by U.S. funeral homes.
Biodegradable Tree Urns
The Living Urn is the leading biotree urn on the market today and the only bio urn and planting system that is designed to be used with actual living trees and not seeds or tiny saplings. This is important because it can be a big challenge to grow a healthy tree from a seed or tiny sapling, and the folks at The Living Urn want to make it easy for families to grow a beautiful and enduring memory tree to honor their loved one.
The Living Urn is a proven biodegradable tree urn system with tens of thousands of plantings worldwide. Each Living Urn comes with special planting additives, detailed and easy to follow instructions, and a biodegradable urn made from plant materials that is strong and rigid above ground but breaks down quickly once planted to allow the roots to grow and expand freely. The system comes housed in a beautiful bamboo case that is perfect for ceremonies and also comes in handy for storing and transporting the biodegradable planting urn. In addition, this tree urn for ashes or biotree urn offers more than 50 different tree options, narrowed down by zip code to what grows best in your area. All of the trees are 1.5 to 4 feet in height and are shipped direct to your doorstep fresh and ready to plant on the planting date of your choosing.
Biodegradable Burial Urns
There are many wood and paper urns on the market that are biodegradable and can be buried. One biodegradable burial urn, in particular, that has become a favorite of funeral homes throughout the U.S. is the Eco Burial Urn. This unique and beautiful cylinder-shaped urn is made entirely from bamboo. Not only is bamboo an attractive material, it is also a sustainable resource and considered one of the best eco-friendly building materials on the planet. The Eco Burial Bamboo Urn can be used as a traditional indoor urn for as long as the family would like and will not biodegrade until it is placed in the ground and exposed to soil and moisture. In addition, since it only costs $70-$100 (depending on where you buy it), it is an affordable and dignified option for most families.
Biodegradable Scattering Urns
There are two main biodegradable scattering urn options available that are designed to scatter. One is a generic tube made from cardboard and the other is made from bamboo and is called the Eco Scattering Urn. Both are a long cylindrical shape with an opening on top, which is an optimal design for scattering as the ashes can be dispersed away from the person scattering. However, there are three important differences between cardboard and bamboo scattering urns. The first is the rigidity and durability of the material. The cardboard urns can soften and break down in adverse weather conditions or if dropped in or exposed to water. On the other hand, the Eco Scattering bamboo urn is strong and rigid and will not be affected by weather or water exposure. The second major difference is that the cardboard scattering urns cannot be resealed once opened so families are limited to scattering at one place at one time and cannot secure a portion of the ashes back in the urn. The Eco Scattering Urn is much different and has a proprietary mechanism on top that locks in the open position (for scattering) and closed position which makes it easy for families to safely transport the urn and scatter at multiple locations or at different times. A third difference is the ease of loading. The cardboard scattering urns typically involve gluing, which is an added cumbersome step, while the Eco Scattering Urn is easily loaded from the top without any extra steps required.
Biodegradable Water Urns
There are multiple biodegradable water urns designed to scatter ashes. The scattering urns mentioned above can be used or families can use another biodegradable urn specifically designed for water burials. The Eco Water Urn is one such urn and has become a very popular choice for families and funeral homes. This special water urn is completely biodegradable and is made entirely from recycled plant materials. Once placed in the water, it floats like a buoy and then gracefully frees the cremated ashes from the bottom of the urn into the water. Many families will write messages on the urn before it is used to scatter. The Eco Water Urn comes packaged in an attractive bamboo container. This container makes it easy to safely transport the water urn to the scattering event and is also a common presentation centerpiece in ceremonies. The Eco Water Urn is currently offered by hundreds of funeral homes nationwide and can also be purchased online.
Use the Best Biodegradable Urns
As more families choose cremation and are seeking eco friendly options, there is a growing demand for products to meet these needs and many new biodegradable urns are being introduced each year. Some of these biodegradable urns work as intended, while others do not. For example, some of the tree urns on the market instruct families to plant a seed or tiny sapling, and this can be problematic for the reasons described earlier in this article. Expert arborists disagree with planting a seed or tiny sapling (especially for a memorial), as the results are much less certain than if planting a more robust tree.
It is important to do your homework and know the company that makes the product. Do they have a phone number that you can call and ask questions? Do they have a customer service team? Being available for customers is an important sign of credibility and will make it easy for you or your loved to be sure and purchase the right product.
Which biodegradable urn is right for my loved one?
With so many options available, it is always a good idea to ask around, check verified reviews online, or check with your local funeral home. The Living Urn, Eco Scattering Urn, Eco Burial Urn, and Eco Water Urn have all have great online reviews and have become the biodegradable urns of choice for many of the top funeral homes throughout the nation. They also have a customer service team that can be reached six days a week at (800) 495-7022 to answer any questions you may have.