Companies create sustainable burial services for an eco-friendly afterlife

The vast majority of youth (87% in the U.S. and 86% in the UK) think that being eco-friendly is an important factor when buying products. Though young consumers may not be thinking about how this applies to their final resting place, companies are thinking ahead on their behalf, offering sustainable burial alternatives that let people be green from beyond the grave.


Capsula Mundi wants to commemorate death with trees instead of tombstones by returning loved ones to the earth in a sustainable way. Ideated by Italian designers, the deceased’s remains are encapsulated and buried in a biodegradable, eco-friendly pod beneath the seed of a tree. The pod can be built to accommodate cremated remains, or a body in the fetal position. As with caskets, the type of tree can be chosen ahead of time, well before the person passes away. As the pod decomposes, the body provides nutrients for the growing tree. Creators Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel imagine traditional cemeteries transforming into “sacred forests.”


Startup Better Place Forests wants to replace cemeteries with stunning protected forests. The company creates, operates, and maintains America’s first forest cemeteries for families that want natural memorials. Burials are cremation-only, and a portion of the sale from each plot contributes to a fund that keeps the forest private and protected. The purchase of a plot includes a ceremony for spreading the ashes at the base of a tree selected by the family, which the founders hope will provide a special resting place that loved ones will want to visit. The first location is set to open in 2017 in the redwoods of northern California.


Ruth Faas originally founded Mourning Dove Studio as a tool to help people honor and grieve lost loved ones using art. After learning more about the environmental impact of the traditional burial process—such as the 1.6 million tons of concrete buried in the U.S. each year that contribute to carbon emissions—she partnered with Carol Motley to provide an alternative. Mourning Dove Studio sells eco-friendly coffins made of cardboard that are biodegradable, durable, and easily personalized. The duo hopes their products will inspire more people to choose natural burials.