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Becoming a tree: the Bios urn and Capsula Mundi change your mind

By Susanne Duijvestein, sustainable funeral director of Bijafscheid

What to do with the ashes? Earlier I wrote about the various choices of urns, cherishing stones and ash jewelry. Another revolutionary idea comes from the south of Europe: the Bios Urn from Spain and the Capsula Mundi from Italy. Because what if you can merge into new life after you die? And more specifically as a tree?

I don't need to explain the importance of more trees on our planet. Despite their simpleness, the Bios Urn and the Capsula Mundi make you think in a completely different way. About your own transience. About materiality. About life on earth. About what you leave behind.

Capsula Mundi

To be buried in a coffin, which actually blocks the action of nature, in a cemetery where people are commemorated with tombstones. The Italian designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel thought it was an alienating principle. When you die, you should be absorbed into nature. So why don't we design objects that promote natural processes and leave something beautiful behind?

The answer from the Italian duo is the Capsula Mundi. An egg-shaped ecological capsule, in which the deceased body is buried in a fetal position, and above which a tree of your choice can be planted.

Cemeteries with tombstones give way to forests. With trees that symbolize the connection between earth and heaven. Transforming yourself into a tree. How beautiful.

It started with a design concept and soon the whole world was captivated by the idea. Product development is still in full swing. Until now, the Capsula Mundi is only available in the form of an urn, so for the burial of the ashes. For instance, you can ship one to the Netherlands via the Capsula Mundi webshop for about 400 euros, excluding tree.

If you ask me, it is an expensive implementation of the idea and it is better to look somewhere locally for a fully degradable urn. That could be the Bios Urn, for example, read on below.

By the way, you shouldn't think that a tree is growing out of us, thanks to our body. Rather, it is despite of our body. Our body or our ashes do not contain tree growth promoting ingredients or the like. And there is always a chance that a newly planted tree will not grow. This can have a sad effect: “now grandma has died twice”.

Having posted this disclaimer, it is still a good idea to let what you leave behind on the planet be a tree.

De Italiaanse designers van de Capsula Mundi: Anna Citelli en Raoul Bretzel

Bios Urn The Spaniards Gerard Moliné, Roger Moliné and Martín Azúa believe that death can be viewed differently. The 'end of life' can be converted into a 'return to life' through a clever application of design and nature. Death is a transformation process.

They invented the Bios Urn. This urn is made from biodegradable coconut shell, cellulose and compressed peat. The urn is filled with cremation ash, which serves as food for the tree or plant. In the top compartment you plant a seed from a tree. You can then plant this tree in all possible places, for example in the garden of your parental home or on a special estate.

The urn slowly breaks down when it is buried. As the urn breaks down, the ash will be reabsorbed into the environment as a nourishing source.

And in the form of a tree, shrub or plant, new life will sprout from it. How beautiful.

The Bios Urn is handmade in Spain and is 100% biodegradable. The Bios Urn costs about 136 euros excluding seedling and comes with a tablet of garden soil, fertilizer and instructions for use. Go to the website here.

It can be very comforting to think that what you leave on the earth is a tree. Which may stand for tens or even hundreds of years. Where your loved ones can go. Where the birds build their nests. Where the ecosystem on our planet gets a little more in balance.

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