Biodegradable burial pods – grow forests rather than cutting them down for coffins

Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel are two designers living in Italy who envision a different approach to the way we think about death and how our remains are disposed of.

With their project, Capsula Mundi, they want to remind people that we are a part of nature’s cycle of transformation. “We believe that this unavoidable passage is not the end, but the beginning of a way back to nature.”

The pair, examining the role of designers in society, came to the conclusion that in a culture far removed from nature, overloaded with objects for the needs of daily life and focused on youth, death is often dealt with as a taboo.

Inspired by these reflections, they decided to redesign the coffin – an object entirely left out of the design world – using ecological materials and universal life symbols such as the egg and the tree.

Capsula Mundi is centered around the concept of making burials more environmentally sustainable. They want to grow forests, rather than cut them down for coffins.

Their vision is to have people buried in egg-shaped, biodegradable pods. Once the capsule is placed in the ground, a tree is planted on top to serve as a memorial. When the biodegradable pod breaks down, the remains provide nutrients for the sapling.

“The tree, a symbol of the connection between the sky and the earth, is chosen when the person is alive and relatives and friends look after it when the person dies.”

“A cemetery will no longer be full of tombstones and will become a sacred forest,” says Capsula Mundi on its website.

The Capsula Mundi project is still in the start-up phase.

Green burials

As scientific research supports green solutions such as the Capsula Mundi project, environmental awareness is also breaking down cultural barriers around burials.

“We’ve noticed an uptick in the public interest in green burials in the last 24 months. The public has become much more aware and there is a lot more interest in the practice,” says Kate Kalanick, from the Green Burial Council, North America’s eco-certification organization for the death industry.

But is it legal? “It’s legal in the whole of North America. We really don’t have any governmental or legislative push back in the US or in Canada in regards to green burials,” says Kalanick.

In Italy this type of burial would not be allowed and to bury someone in this manner is illegal in most countries.

South Africa’s first green burial site was established near Stellenbosch in the Western Cape in 2011. The Wiesenhof Legacy Park is a 300 hectare privately-owned nature reserve, which offers burial plots and areas for ash scattering.

Green burials are on the rise according to a Funeral and Memorial Information Council survey which revealed that 64 percent of adults over 40 are interested in a green burial.

Watch: Capsula Mundi burial pods

Source: Capricorn Review