Green-pod burials solve many problems. They’re good for the environment and they’re a gentle, practical and beautiful way to return to the earth. So they would work even for the most traditional of people.
“I’ve completely changed my plans about how I’m going to be buried,” announced my friend Kim at Sunday brunch recently.
“I’ve decided not to have traditional burial in a heavy wooden coffin. I’ll be buried in a green-pod coffin. A tree will be planted in the pod and my body will be used to feed the tree.”
She will avoid a big problem with funerals today: we seal our bodies too perfectly in their coffins. These are often lead-lined and sometimes the body is embalmed. This keeps oxygen out and stops the body from degrading.
That creates the false idea we can hold on to someone who’s died – but as we know that’s an illusion.
Kim played with the idea further as we chatted: “The tree it feeds could grow big and large, so that it could be harvested by my family in later years for timber to build a house.”
I would never want to be so specific – imagine if my family all wanted to live in high rise apartments, somewhere in the middle of a city. My ‘gift’ would then become a heavy burden, or at least a nuisance, as they struggled with their obligations to the tree.
But I took her point: her death would be an opportunity to give even more of her energy back to her family, unlocking more to the cycle of life than our contemporary society currently imagines, another advance in the green burial concept.
Kim’s ideas settled the ‘cremation vs burial’ question for me. If my body could be used to enrich the soil, that’s better than using the huge amounts of energy needed for a cremation.
That does mean there’ll be no ashes to scatter. I suddenly realised I like that. Do ashes condensed to cinder give much back to the soil? And I’ve heard of too many cases lately where the ashes have been split by a divided family and interred in separate batches, which I find sad.
Cardboard and wicker coffins are used for eco-burials because they break down quickly.
Ecopod coffins can also be used. These were developed in the USA and are made of recycled newspapers. It’s this concept the Italian makers of the Capsula Mundi take one step further. Their’s is made of biodegradable plastic. The body is folded into its large egg shape and a sapling tree is embedded in it.
Today, eco-burials are often marketed on the basis that, as well as not leaving as much material behind, they are cheaper than conventional burials since you don’t need the heavy wood and brass fittings of a conventional coffin.
Gravestones are discreet or gone. The concrete reinforcing around the grave is eliminated at natural burial sites too, leaving room for bushes and trees. That alone takes the look of a graveyard from gloom and decay to a new level. It turns it into a space of life and living.
To read about the capsula mundi go to:
For more on eco funerals in Australia, go to:
For an example of a funeral company offering natural and eco funerals, go to:
For a novel approach to organising your coffin, go to
Finally have a read of the various ways one can be disposed of in Sandra Moon’s Tree burials, Sea Burials and Green Burials.