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Choose a memorial tree to scatter ashes. Your loved ones will always be part of a forest.

Better Place Forests creates and maintains conservation memorial forests for people who choose cremation and don’t want their ashes to end up in a traditional cemetery.
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7 Innovative Burial Alternatives: Beyond the Usual Grave

Each year, traditional burials introduce a myriad of ions, including organic and heavy metals, into our soil and water systems. What if we could change that narrative and opt for a resting place that gives back to the Earth rather than taking from it?

Traditional burials, deeply ingrained in our culture, have been the go-to for generations. But as our awareness of environmental concerns has grown, so too have the questions about the sustainability of these practices. The use of non-biodegradable caskets, the chemicals in embalming, and the expansive land they require are now under scrutiny.

In an era where we’ve rethought so many aspects of our lives to be more sustainable and conscious, it’s only fitting that our final resting choices evolve as well. This shift isn’t solely about environmental responsibility but a call to align our end-of-life decisions with the values and principles we cherished throughout our lives. 

As we ponder the lasting footprints of our existence, let’s delve into burial alternatives that not only pay tribute to our loved ones but also honor the Earth that cradled us throughout our journey.

Revolutionary Burial Alternatives Transcending the Traditional Grave

1. Memorial forests

A memorial forest offers a serene and environmentally-conscious alternative to traditional burials. Instead of graveyards, envision tranquil forests where each tree stands as a living tribute to a departed soul. 

The process involves mixing a loved one’s ashes with native soil and dried flower petals, which are then spread at the base of a chosen tree. This unique approach not only symbolizes the cyclical nature of life but also ensures a lasting, natural tribute amidst the beauty of nature.

At Better Place Forests, our dedicated guides assist families in crafting a memorial that truly encapsulates the essence of their loved one. From selecting the perfect tree to deciding on memorial marker inscriptions, every detail is meticulously curated. Moreover, our commitment to sustainability ensures that these forests are preserved for generations to come, making them a meaningful alternative to burial and cremation. 

2. Aquamation

Aquamation, also known as alkaline hydrolysis, is an eco-friendly alternative to cremation or burial. This process uses a combination of water, heat, and alkalinity to gently break down the body, leaving behind only the bones. These bones are then processed into a fine, white ash, similar to what’s left after cremation. 

The primary difference is that aquamation doesn’t involve direct flame or the release of harmful emissions into the atmosphere. At its core, aquamation mimics the natural decomposition process but accelerates it significantly. The body is placed in a stainless-steel vessel filled with a solution of water and potassium hydroxide. 

When heated under high pressure, this solution rapidly breaks down organic materials, leaving only the bones.

While aquamation is a more environmentally friendly choice, it’s essential to consider its availability and potential costs. Not all regions have facilities equipped for aquamation, and the initial costs might be higher than traditional cremation. However, the reduced environmental impact and the gentle nature of the process make it an appealing alternative burial option for many.

3. Mountain burials

Mountain memorials, commonly referred to as sky burials, offer a unique and symbolic alternative to traditional burial. The idea of laying a loved one to rest atop a mountain amidst the serenity of nature carries deep spiritual and cultural significance for many. 

Mountains, in various cultures, are often seen as places closer to the divine, representing ascension, purity, and eternity. The process typically involves carrying the deceased to a chosen mountain location, chanting mantras, and leaving the body to be consumed by condors.

This journey can be both physically and emotionally challenging but is seen by many as a final act of love and dedication. Regardless, the physical demands of transporting a body to a remote mountain location can be significant. 

4. Space burial

The vastness of space has always captivated human imagination. Space burial takes this fascination to a new level, offering a cosmic alternative to traditional burial. Instead of resting on Earth, the remains of the deceased are launched into the cosmos, either orbiting our planet or venturing deeper into the vast expanse.

The process typically involves placing a small amount of cremated remains in a specially designed capsule. This capsule is then loaded onto a spacecraft, which is launched into space. There are various options available: some choose to have the remains orbit the Earth and eventually burn up upon re-entry, while others opt for a trajectory that sends the capsule toward the moon, deep space, or even specific celestial bodies.

Keep in mind that the environmental impact of rocket launches, which release greenhouse gases and other pollutants, is a concern. Additionally, the increasing number of objects in Earth’s orbit poses challenges for space traffic management and potential satellite collisions.

5. Bio urns

Bio urns are biodegradable containers that hold the cremated remains of a loved one, along with a seed or sapling. This sustainable alternative to cremation or burial is simple yet profound: as the urn decomposes, the tree begins to grow, drawing nutrients from the ashes and symbolizing the cycle of life and death.

The process begins with the selection of a suitable tree or plant species. Once the cremated remains are placed in the urn, it’s buried in a chosen location, be it a backyard, a forest, or a dedicated memorial park. Over time, the urn breaks down, and the tree takes root, growing into a living memorial.

While bio urns provide a beautiful way to remember a loved one and contribute positively to the environment, there are considerations to bear in mind. Once the urn is buried and the sapling starts growing, relocating becomes challenging. If a family moves or wishes to transfer the memorial to another location, it’s not as simple as moving a traditional urn.

6. Glass keepsakes

Glass keepsakes offer a unique and artistic way to memorialize a loved one. These handcrafted pieces, ranging from pendants and paperweights to intricate sculptures and functional vases, incorporate a small amount of cremated remains within the glass. 

Some choose wearable art like pendants to keep their loved ones close, while others might opt for decorative ornaments or marbles as a discreet yet meaningful tribute.

The process involves melting the glass and then carefully integrating the ashes, ensuring they are sealed and visible within the finished product. While these keepsakes are undoubtedly beautiful, there are considerations to bear in mind. 

The amount of ashes used is minimal, making it a supplementary memorial option rather than a complete alternative to burial or cremation. Additionally, their creation requires skilled artisans, potentially making them a pricier choice. And, like all glass items, they are fragile and can break if not handled with care.

7. Paintings 

In recent years, a unique form of artistry has emerged where cremated remains are incorporated into paintings, creating a lasting and visual tribute to the departed. This process involves mixing a small portion of the ashes with special paints, which are then used to craft a piece of art. The result is a beautiful canvas that not only captures the essence of the individual but also serves as a tangible reminder of their presence.

The types of paintings can vary widely, from abstract representations of emotions and memories to detailed portraits of landscapes that hold significance for the deceased. The texture and appearance of the paint can change slightly due to the ashes, adding depth and a unique touch to the artwork.

While this form of memorial offers a creative alternative to burial or cremation, the artwork requires a skilled artist familiar with the process to ensure the ashes are appropriately integrated, and the final piece is of high quality. Additionally, like all artwork, it’s essential to care for the painting to preserve its integrity over time.

Parting Thoughts

As the world evolves, so do our perspectives on life, death, and the legacies we leave behind. Many are now seeking alternatives to traditional burial that resonate more deeply with their personal values and environmental concerns. 

From the tranquility of memorial forests to the artistic embrace of paintings infused with cremated remains, the spectrum of end-of-life choices has expanded, reflecting our diverse desires and the ever-growing consciousness of our ecological footprint. 

Better Place Forests stands at the intersection of this evolution, offering a serene and sustainable alternative. Amidst the vast array of options, our memorial forests serve as a testament to the harmony that can exist between honoring our loved ones and cherishing the Earth. 

As we continue to explore and understand the myriad of alternative burial options available, it’s comforting to know that there are choices like Better Place Forests that not only pay tribute to individual lives but also contribute positively to the world we all share.


What are alternative burial options?

Alternative burial options include methods like memorial forests, aquamation, mountain burials, space burials, bio urns, glass keepsakes, and paintings with cremated remains. These alternatives to traditional burial offer diverse ways to memorialize loved ones while often being more environmentally conscious.

What are the cheapest options after death?

The cheapest options after death typically include direct cremation without a service, body donation to medical science, and natural burials without a casket. Costs can vary based on location and specific service providers.

Can you be buried without a casket?

Yes, you can be buried without a casket. This is often referred to as a “natural” or “green” burial. In such burials, the body is placed directly into the ground, usually in a biodegradable shroud or container, aligning with alternatives to cremation or burial that emphasize eco-friendliness.

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