Tree burial pods are one of the latest alternatives to traditional burials that have garnered a lot of buzz in the last few years. If you are currently considering a natural burial option, you may be wondering if tree burial pods are a good fit for you or your loved one. In this article, we’ll provide some guidance about how tree pods work, their availability, and their environmental impact so you can make an informed decision.
Tree Burial Pods: An Eco-Friendly Alternative to Traditional Burials
What is a Tree Burial Pod?
There are currently just a few companies worldwide who are working on the two main types of tree burial pods.
The two types of tree burial pods are:
Whole-body pods: A full body is placed in the fetal position and surrounded by natural cloth. That pod is placed in the ground for natural burial. In images, it’s often shown with a tree growing above the body. Capsula Mundi is still working on producing whole-body burial pods. Whole body pods are not commercially available, and the timeline for when they will be is unknown.
Cremation-based pods: These are biodegradable urns that house human (or pet) ashes in a slow-degrading capsule. The urn can be buried either under an existing tree or with a tree seed or sapling that you can grow over time. Saplings are not always included with these pods.
Why use a tree burial pod instead of just planting a tree yourself?
when you plant a tree with ashes or a dead body, caring for that tree can be complicated. These complications exist with both tree burial pods and planting a new tree. In both cases, you want to make sure the tree has the proper nutrients to grow. Some tree burial pods may help you get the right mixture of soil, nutrients, and bacteria to help with decomposition of a body/ashes.
By utilizing an existing, mature tree for your burial pod, there is less worry that the tree will not survive.
If you decide to grow a sapling atop your burial pod, there are more risks to consider. The survival rate of planted saplings largely depends on region, species, and the presence of already mature trees in the vicinity. On average, roughly 50% of tree saplings grow to become mature trees.
How to choose the right tree burial pod for your needs
When it comes to choosing a tree burial pod for yourself or a loved one, you should consider:
Cremation or Whole Body: There are many restrictions and laws about where a deceased body can be placed. For whole body options, connect with local cemeteries to understand your options. If you choose cremation, there are more options about where that tree can grow.
What type of tree you prefer. With most tree burial pods, you have the option of choosing a tree species. Consider the climate and soil of where you intend to plant your tree.
Access. Wherever your tree burial pod is planted, you should ensure that your access to it is guaranteed. For example, if you plant a tree burial pod in your backyard, you wouldn’t be able to visit if the house is sold.
The benefits of tree burial pods
Tree burial pods are an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional burials.
By using upcycled and biodegradable materials, such as polymer, tree burial pods help families honor their loved ones in a way that has little or no negative impact on the environment. Cremation-based pods can be made even more environmentally friendly if the body is processed by way of water cremation (or alkaline hydrolysis) which has a smaller carbon footprint than standard cremation.
If a tree grows from the tree burial pod, that tree will absorb carbon dioxide, help filter pollutants from the air, and serve as a food source and home to wildlife.
Additionally, tree burial pods give people peace of mind knowing that their loved one will physically be a part of nature’s cycle of life, symbolizing the continuity of life after death and the interconnectedness of all living things.
How to properly care for your tree burial pod
Ensure your tree pod’s sapling has access to water, sunlight, and quality soil. Note any specific instructions about your tree species. Check the area around your tree burial pod regularly for pests and weeds.
Frequently Asked Questions about tree burial pods
How much do tree burial pods cost?
For a basic biodegradable urn that you can plant in the ground, your prices will range from $129 – $199. For tree burial pods that utilize an entire body, you will need to consult with local cemeteries for costs, rules, regulations, and availability.
What happens if my tree dies?
According to Science Daily, approximately 18% of planted saplings die within the first year, and 44% die within the first 5 years.
When deciding between a tree burial pod and a mature tree, we encourage you to think about tree survival rates and if it would be upsetting if your tree didn’t grow. No tree lives forever. A common solution is to plant another tree near where you buried the tree pod.
What tree species can I choose?
It depends where your tree will live! When choosing a species, we recommend choosing a species that grows naturally in the area you want to plant it. Unfortunately this means you can’t plant a Redwood tree in Texas.
Where do I plant my tree burial pod?
We recommend thinking about two factors: ongoing access to the location and the ease of visiting for family and friends. If you plan on planting your tree pod on land other than private property, make sure you have the proper permits to do so.
Tree burial pods are an innovative way to honor your loved one. If planted and cared for correctly, a tree burial pod can serve as a beautiful natural memorial for generations.
If you’re considering this option, we recommend discussing the species and planting location with your family ahead of time, as you want to make sure that your tree will thrive and your family will have continued access to your memorial.
If you’re interested in learning more about why some families choose mature memorial trees instead of tree pods, The Better Place Forests’ team is here to help.