Would you like to become a tree after you die?
Being laid to rest in a lush green forest providing nourishment to a tree seems like the most natural, awe-inspiring and planet-friendly burial option that currently exists.
There’ll be no need to face those cold, grey cemeteries, you don’t need to worry about burial plots running out, you can stay alive in nature forever and give something back to the planet at the same time.
You can even choose the exact type of tree that will represent you for centuries to come, whether that’s cherry, oak, willow, beech, sycamore, chestnut or any other you choose.
Far from being a wacky idea, the idea of becoming a tree when you die has increased in popularity over the past 20 years as we aim to reduce our impact on the planet and live greener lifestyles.
Let me explain why ‘traditional’ burials can be so harmful for the environment and show you three easy ways that you too can become a tree when you die.
What’s the Problem with a Regular Burial?
A ‘traditional’ burial where you’re placed into a coffin and lowered into the ground as your heartbroken friends and relatives mourn your loss might not sound like much of an environmental problem.
Yet it involves all kinds of environmental hazards and a surprising amount of pollution.
For example, most bodies are preserved with embalming fluid which contains formaldehyde after the person has passed away.
Although over here in Europe we’ve restricted the use of formaldehyde, in the USA they still use this dangerous substance.
Not only does this substance prevent your body from decomposing in the way that nature intended, it also pollutes the soil, harms plants and wildlife and is a proven carcinogen which can cause cancer in funeral directors who are exposed to it regularly.
But that’s not the only problem with those ‘traditional’ burials. Another environmental problem relates to what ends up in the ground along with the body.
This includes a vast number of personal items, synthetic substances and according to some sources, even medical waste.
Cremation has always been an alternative to a regular burial and can be more eco-friendly as it uses less physical space and doesn’t pollute the earth to the same degree.
However, it does bring into question factors like energy use, as well as mercury and carbon emissions so it isn’t the greenest option overall.
Green burials are much better.
They avoid the embalming process, use biodegradable alternatives to traditional coffins and caskets and aim to eliminate most of the waste so your death doesn’t impact the health of the planet.
Becoming a tree when you die is one of the best ways you can do this.
How to Become a Tree When You Die
Luckily, there are several ways that you can reduce your environmental impact and become a tree after you die.
- Placing your ashes into a specially designed, biodegradable eco-capsule from which a tree can grow.
- Placing your dead body into an organic burial urn from which a tree can grow.
- Opting for a woodland burial where you will have a more traditional burial but still become a tree when you die.
Let me explain more about each of these in turn:
Option #1: The biodegradable eco-capsule
The organic burial pod is the latest invention to have captured the imagination and attention of both mainstream media and the environmentally conscious.
A project by Italian designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel, this is an organic, biodegradable capsule that will help you turn into a tree when you die.
Your dead body is placed in the foetal position in the 100% biodegradable pod and then you are placed into the ground.
Then a tree can be planted above the pod and as you decompose, your body will provide the nutrients that the tree needs to thrive.
As well as the larger pods, they have also created smaller designs that allow your ashes to be placed into a smaller bio urn which, when combined with the right nutrients, can nourish the tree.
It’s an exciting concept that has yet to be developed and could provide the perfect way to become a tree when you die.
Option #2: The organic eco-friendly burial urn
Eco-friendly burial urns allow your family to enjoy the convenience of cremation yet still allow you to nourish a tree in your final resting place.
Your family can place your ashes into the biodegradable urn which mixes with other minerals and substances to allow your ashes to nourish a tree.
Either a seed or a seedling can be placed into the space on top which will then allow you to achieve your ambition.
These are the most encouraging options:
1. The Bios Urn Biodegradable Tree Memorial for Ashes
This is a 100% biodegradable capsule made from sustainably resourced materials which contains two compartments.
The lower one holds your ashes and the top holds the special soil mix (including nutrient-rich vermiculite and coco-peat) and the tree seed or seedling.
You can choose from cherry, oak or beech and can use the urn for your loved one or a pet.
2. The Living Urn Bio Urn
Made from attractive biodegradable bamboo and beautifully designed, the Living Urn Bio Urn is a single-compartment urn which allows you to place ashes and the patented ash-neutralising soil together in one place.
Then you simply need to visit your local garden nursery and select the tree seed or sapling of your choice and watch it grow before your very eyes.
This is a great option if you want to choose a particular kind of tree for yourself or your loved ones. If you’d like to keep it simple, there’s also an option that comes complete with a seedling.
Can’t I just plant a tree in my ashes?
Unfortunately, you can’t just plant a tree on top of your ashes.
This is because your remains don’t contain all the minerals needed to sustain life (they contain calcium, potassium and phosphorus but lack manganese, carbon and zinc), they’re high in salt and they are of the wrong pH level to allow plants to grow as they should.
Both of the above urn options offer the perfect solution that rebalances the minerals and allows your tree to thrive.
Option #3: The woodland burial
If you’d like your final resting place to be a green and leafy woodland paradise, full of wildlife and offering shade and protection to the world, a woodland burial might be a good option for you.
You won’t need to be cremated but can be placed into a biodegradable coffin or casket made from recycled paper, cardboard, wicker, willow, banana leaf, or bamboo and placed into the ground and placed into a natural burial ground or designated woodland burial site.
Your resting place might not be marked be a cold, stone headstone but instead identified by trees and flowers and many also provide a map that can also be used to identify where your remains lie.
A woodland burial is considered to be a gentle and natural way to become a tree when you die and allows an entire woodland to be a tribute to your loved one.
As you can see, it’s easier than ever to become a tree when you die. Whether you’d prefer a biodegradable eco-capsule, an organic eco-friendly burial urn or a woodland burial, there’s a greener burial option for you.
Charlotte Witts is a writer and entrepreneur who wants to show you how easy it is to live a more conscious, zero-waste lifestyle. A confirmed yoga-addict, trail runner and ocean-lover, she currently lives in the Azores where she enjoys the simple pleasures in life.