How would you want to go out in the sunset of your life — stuck in a coffin, which requires a tree to be cut down to build, or returned to the earth, where your remains could actually nourish a tree?
Strange as it may sound, human compost isn't new. Natural burials (or "green burials") are on the rise among baby boomers, some out of financial necessity and some out of a desire to be one with the land. There's even an exploratory project in Seattle that may eventually construct urban composting facilities to convert human remains into compost, much in the same way you turn your vegetable scraps into fertilizer.
But these organic burial pods by Italian company Capsula Mundi bring a little beauty to the process of green burials. Rather than simply burying an unembalmed body in a biodegradable casket, the body is placed in the fetal position in an organic burial capsule and lowered into the ground. A tree is planted above the capsule and as it grows, it feeds off the nutrients from the decomposing body.
Designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel envision a world in which "a cemetery will no longer be full of tombstones and will become a sacred forest." A memory park, if you will.
Capsula Mundi is the first Italian project to promote green burials in that country, but alas, it is only a concept for now. Italian law currently forbids this type of burial, mandating that coffins must be made of wood, cemeteries must be in closed and controlled areas, and burial spaces are only temporary unless you own a family chapel — laws that date back to Napoleon Bonaparte.
But such a concept is a comforting one when you think of your descendants visiting your tree, caring for it, and sitting in its shade long after you've passed.