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Carrying out the wishes of the dead is a top priority for families, funeral homes and cemeteries. But what if those wishes are for a natural burial?
With environmental and consumption implications looming, more and more people are changing what happens to them when they die, and one of the emerging interests is in natural or ‘green’ burials.
Green burial is not a new idea. Before caskets, most cultures wrapped bodies in shrouds and placed them in the ground or tomb, and that is exactly how it is done today. The deceased are wrapped in non-toxic, biodegradable shroud and placed in the soil without a casket. If a casket is used, it is made from natural materials that are sure to decompose, and rather than using traditional up-standing headstones, flat embedded stones or a tree marks the site. According to the US Central Intelligence Agency, nearly two people die every second! Then consider the leading burial practice in the US being casket entombment, surely cemetery space is going to run out eventually.
In another twist on green funerals and eco- friendly burials, two Italian designers have envisioned a new way of paying it forward even after death. Many different ideas have been put forward in the past few decades, in an attempt to make cemeteries, funerals and burials greener, but this concept goes a step further and the vision; planting ‘sacred forests’ with the bodies of the deceased acting as fertilizer.
This is called the ‘Capsula Mundi’ Concept , and it uses an egg shaped burial pod made from biodegradable starch plastics as the coffin, a tree is then planted over the pod , which in theory will use the nutrients from the decomposing body as fertilizer for its growth.
Although this is still a design concept, and not an actual option for those planning their funerals, the designers hope that in the future, this type of burial will be allowed and ‘memory parks’ full of trees will be planted. Instead of cemeteries full of headstones, the trees would serve as a living memorial.
The company writes on their website that it takes 10 to 40 years for a tree to grow, it is then cut down and made into a coffin that only serves a purpose for 2 or 3 days, and it was this train of thought that sparked the perfect solution: a way to save one tree and plant another. This is quite a nice concept and provides a new way of thinking about death, encouraging a much needed cultural shift.