No more coffins!
For a few years, I worked as an assistant to a woman who owned a number of funeral homes, so I'm pretty well versed with funeral-speak. Jealous? While most people use the word coffin, it's actually considered dated; the funeral industry prefers the word casket.
Pod with tree.
Capsula Mundi is an Italian cultural and broad-based project, which wants to change the way we approach death. Instead of being put into a box, the creators envision the departed being place in an egg-shaped pod made of biodegradable material.
Ashes would go into small Capsulas while the uncremated bodies would be put into a larger pod in a fetal position. The pod would be buried like a seed into the earth. The tree chosen (while the deceased is still alive) would be planted on top of the pod and serve as a memorial for the deceased.
Here's a diagram of the design:
Here's the thing: while people in the funeral industry are actually a surprisingly kind and compassionate group of people (with not-surprisingly well-formed senses of humor), it's a business and they want you to buy the most expensive deluxe casket on the market. They aren't really interested in what happens to your body once it's buried, or if your family and friends have a pleasant experience when they come and visit you.
The creators behind Capsula Mundi: Raoul Bretzel and Anna Citelli.
Cemeteries can be pretty, peaceful, and well-maintained; unlike some scary movies, no zombies or vampires hang around them. In Los Angeles, we have movie screenings, picnics, and celebrity grave tours in some of our cemeteries, but we know that on the other side of the wall, Moulin Rouge is being projected on graves and tombstones.
Wouldn't it be nice, if instead of a cemetery, there were a grove of beautiful trees? Capsula Mundi thinks that instead of traditional cemeteries, the trees that grow on top of the burial pods would become sacred forests or memory forests.
All photos: Capsula Mundi
Everything that lives is going to die — this is a given. And yet, death is often a taboo subject. Capsula Mundi believes that the unavoidable passage of death is meaningful and shouldn't be treated as the final end, but as the beginning of a way back to nature. As the body breaks down, it nourishes the tree above it and thusly integrates with nature.
Instead of cutting down a tree to make a casket, pods would create forests and have a positive impact on the environment.
At this time, Capsula Mundi is still in its start-up phase. In Italy, green burials are against the law. They've started production of the Capsula in a small size (for cremains) but they won't be available to the public for a while.
Hopefully, some day cemeteries will be a thing of the past, and we will remember those who have passed away by caring for the tree they chose to symbolize their life.
For more information, check out this video: