Skip to content
What is a Tree Pod Burial?

What is a Tree Pod Burial?

In 2019, a survey revealed that more than half of Americans are interested in a green burial. Protection of the environment and cost were the two leading reasons for this interest. There are many options for a green funeral; one of the most exciting is the tree pod burial. A tree pod burial is a new way of approaching death and the environment. After a person dies, instead of being buried or cremated, both of which have a high environmental footprint, they could be buried under a tree, and the body would decompose into nutrients for the growing tree. While this process is currently available for use with cremated remains, burying a whole body as food for a tree is still being developed. 

Tree pod burial was created by Italian designers Francesco D’Angelo and Adriano Del Ferro in 2016. One of their goals was to plant trees instead of using them to make caskets, so they started Capsula Mundi. They have created an egg-shaped, biodegradable vessel that will hold the body and be buried underneath a tree. They are still testing their process for bodies. When Capsula Mundi for the body becomes available, it will likely work like this:

  1. The body is wrapped in natural fibers or clothing made from natural fibers (e.g., cotton, linen, silk, etc.). This is an essential step because synthetic fibers, like polyester, won’t break down in the earth.
  2. Either before rigor mortis has set in or after it passes, the body is placed inside the tree pod in the fetal position. No embalming fluids or other preparations are needed, which eliminates toxins from being put into the earth.
  3. A location is selected, and the hole is dug. The hole must be the correct depth of 3.5 feet to deter animals and contain any smell. 
  4. The tree pod with the body is buried or planted at a natural burial site. This may be done by cemetery professionals or as part of a funeral service. 
  5. A tree that grows well in the area is planted directly above the tree pod, allowing the decomposing body to nurture the growing tree. The design of the pod helps to make the body good fertilizer.
  6. The tree pod will gradually break down, allowing the nutrients and microorganisms from the body to feed the tree. 

While tree burial pods for a body aren’t available for mass purchase yet, biodegradable urn tree planting systems that use cremation ashes, such as the BioUrn from The Living Urn, are available for use. 

Why Use a Tree Pod?

Many people are excited about the advent of tree pod burials because they want to keep their carbon footprint low in death, the same way they tried to keep as much carbon from the atmosphere while alive. The funeral industry’s environmental price is as high as its monetary price tag. (The average funeral costs around $7,000, with the price often reaching $10,000+.)

Each year the funeral industry uses the following:

  1. 4.3 gallons of toxic embalming fluids, including formaldehyde, methanol, and benzene
  2. 20 million feet of hardwood, which often includes wood from a rainforest
  3. 1.6 million tons of concrete, which has a high carbon footprint
  4. 17,000 tons of metals like bronze and copper
  5. 64,500 tons of steel

Due to environmental and monetary factors, many people choose cremation over a traditional funeral and burial. While this reduces the environmental impact of death, cremation uses energy and releases carbon from the body into the atmosphere. So, while cremation is a better environmental choice than a burial, many people are excited about the coming tree pods. Instead of a cemetery full of chemically maintained grass, the cemeteries in the future will look like lovingly cared-for forests, full of life and peace. 

Residents in the UK and US have access to green burial grounds, which allow a body to decompose naturally. However, this process can still cost several thousand dollars, including the cost of purchasing a burial plot. But, it tends to be less expensive than a traditional funeral, including the cost of a casket. 

Many people are splitting the difference and choosing cremation until new technology like tree pods are approved for widespread use. Cremation offers family and friends many options, including scattering or displaying some of the ashes. They can also use some or all of the ashes to grow a memorial tree using a biodegradable urn from The Living Urn. 

How Much Does It Cost to Be Buried in a Tree Pod?

The pods for burying a whole body with a tree aren’t yet available. However, it’s guessed that a tree burial pod will be less expensive than a traditional funeral. For reference, biodegradable urns for ashes run between $130 and $330, not including the cost of the tree. So, a price in the low thousands is pretty reasonable to assume for a tree burial pod

Is a Tree Pod Cheaper Than Cremation?

Since we don’t know the actual cost of a tree burial pod, it’s hard to see if it will be the same price as cremation. And the cost of cremation can vary greatly depending on where you’re located. The average price of a direct cremation (cremation without any services or special urn) is $1,100. A tree pod will likely be about that cost, maybe a little more, but it will likely be well under the average cost of a traditional funeral.  

Are Organic Burial Pods Legal In the US?

Natural burials using organic burial pods are legal in the US. Still, there may be local legislation about where you can bury a body, e.g., on your own private property. In some states, there are laws requiring a funeral director to oversee a burial. A safe option is to choose a natural burial cemetery; there are many all across the nation. 

While the tree burial pod from Capsula Mundi is eagerly awaited, other green burial options are available. The mushroom suit is one such option for a person buried in a green cemetery. A cloth covering is seeded with mushroom spores. As the mushrooms grow, they will help the body to decompose. Since a green burial is not yet standard, it may take more time and effort than usual, such as location hunting and travel costs. However, the option of using cremation ashes to grow a tree is common and quite accessible. 

When it comes to a tree burial pod that uses ashes, those are also legal in the US. However, if you aren’t using private property, you’ll need to ask for permission before planting a tree in a park or favorite golf course. When it comes to laying human remains to rest, it’s a good idea to check the local rules in your area. 

Growing a Tree from Cremation Ashes

More and more people want to become trees after they die. Not only is it a way of living on and bringing comfort to those left behind, but it’s also a way to support the health of our planet. Until the Capsula Mundi for bodies is fully developed, a good alternative that many people are choosing is to grow a tree from cremation ashes. However, due to the chemical makeup of cremation ashes, there’s some intervention needed. You can’t place cremation ashes in a hole and plant a tree on top of them; the ashes have too high of a pH level and might hurt the growing tree.

That’s where the BioUrn from the Living Urn comes into play! Their patented planting system turns your loved one’s cremation ashes into nourishing food for their memorial tree. The Living Urn does all the work for you; add the ashes to the urn and plant their tree. As the urn degrades, the ashes mix with the patented RootProtect, which allows the ashes to feed the tree. The Living Urn also provides healthy young trees from their award-winning nursery. They use young trees rather than saplings to ensure successful growth. 

You can help your departed loved one realize their dream of becoming a tree with the Living Urn. We know that death is never timely, so you can purchase your Living Urn with a voucher to order a tree when it’s time to plant. Or, you can order the planting system on its own and purchase a young tree from a local nursery. Take into account the kind of person your loved one was and what type of tree you think they’d like to become. Also, be sure to choose a tree that will grow well in your area. We can help you with that, or you can talk to your local nursery. A memorial tree is a lovely way to honor the beautiful person that your loved one was. Hopefully, the tree burial pods for bodies will be available soon, so more of us can become trees when we pass on.

Previous article Becoming Compost vs Becoming a Tree After Death: A Comparison Guide
Next article Memorial Parks: Are They the Cemeteries of the Future?