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Green Burial Concept Sprouts New Idea: ‘Bios Urn’ For Home

BY DANIEL GAITAN | daniel@lifemattersmedia.org

The “green burial” industry continues to grow.

Eco-friendly Bios Urn turns cremains into plant food.

Designed by Spanish brothers Gerard and Roger Moline, this biodegradable urn is crafted from coconut shell, compacted peat and cellulose. A tree seed is placed inside. As the tree sprouts, it draws nutrients from the ashes of the deceased — any amount of ashes can be combined with soil.

The urn aims to change the way people approach death, converting it into a transformative process by promoting a return to life through nature, said company spokeswoman Isabelle Bolla. It has been on the market for a couple years and is gaining popularity.

“The funeral industry stayed in one place, there hasn’t been much change,” she told Life Matters Media. “But in the last few years, the conversation has started shifting. I feel like our company felt it was O.K. to bring death and dying up to speed with 21st century demands and requests.”

Bolla said she never had an interest in cremation or funerals until the death of her sister, who was placed in a Bios Urn in Santa Fe, N.M. The extent to which she “fell in love” with the company inspired her to work there. Her tree is already three feet tall.

“Giving life to something after experiencing something like death is a really transformative experience,” she said. “It helps you understand the cycle of life. It gives people excitement and hope.”

Bios Urn costs $145 and is only available online or through certified distributors. However, the company’s most provocative product—  Bios Incube—  is still in development and could be released later this year. It combines mobile tech with water and ashes.

It is intended to allow customers to monitor their plants with a smartphone app. Users will place their Bios Urn inside the larger Bios Incube. A specially-designed sensor is then to be placed on the surface of the soil, just over the Bios Urn, and the Bios Incube will fill with water. The sensor will track and water the tree using a three-gallon tank.

Users will sync their Bios Incube with an accompanying mobile app, which shows up-to-date environmental conditions. It is designed for home or the backyard.

“It is essentially self-sustaining,” Bolla said. “It ensures that whatever tree you grow, whether it be ginkgo, Japanese Maple or cherry blossom, that all of those trees’ needs are met.”

Growing Trend

An Italian start-up is also working to change the way the world views death.

capsula mundi 3
Capsula Mundi burial “pods”

Capsula Mundi aims to “sensitize” people about the “unbearable” way Western cultures often deal with decay. The goal of designers Raoul Bretzel and Anna Citelli: create lush forests instead of dilapidated gravestones and cold cemeteries.

“Our idea is to change the perception of death,” Bretzel told LMM during an interview from Rome. “Death is no longer just the end of life, but the start of change. It’s the cycle of life.”

Capsula Mundi is an egg-shaped container, made of biodegradable material, where an individual’s ashes or remains would be placed. The pod is specially engineered to be buried as a seed in the earth. Finally, a tree, selected previously by the deceased, would be planted on top of the pod.

Bretzel and Citelli envision protected forests made up of hundreds of “sacred trees,” so families and friends can stroll and relax. They want each tree to bear a GPS so it is easy to identify who lies under each plant. The deceased’s family and friends look after the plant for the rest of their lives.

“We are all part of nature, even people who live in huge cities seek to be a part of nature,” he said. “But we have to be careful in the ways we deal with nature. It’s important to preserve our sense of community with the rest of the world.”

Corpses become “food” for the plant. The pod, designed to have minimal environmental impact, dissolves over time.

However, the project remains in its start-up phase. Complicating matters: green burial is prohibited in Italy. Still, production of a pod for ashes is expected to begin soon, Bretzel said. Then, he will focus on making Capsula for body a reality.