“A lot of energy also goes into producing these materials, which are used for a very short time and then buried. They’re not going to break down very fast,” says Jennifer DeBruyen, an Associate Professor of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science at the University of Tennessee.
Once buried, they say, the biodegradable plastic shell breaks down and the remains provide nutrients to a sapling planted right above it.
Bretzel and Citelli believe that death is as closely related to consumerism as life. Their goal? To create cemeteries full of trees rather than tombstones, reduce waste, and create new life out of death.
The law behind it
“I think there’s enough science and agreement that these [options] represent a really viable option for afterlife”, adds DeBruyen.
As scientific research supports green solutions such as the Capsula Mundi, environmental awareness is also breaking down cultural barriers around burials.
“We’ve noticed an uptick in the public interest in green burials in the last 24 months. Although our providers continued to grow steadily, the public has become much more aware and there is a lot more interest in the practice”, says Kate Kalanick, from the Green Burial Council, North America’s eco-certification organization for the death industry.
She links this increase to the baby-boomers’ environmental awareness and interest in how their bodies will be disposed.
But is it legal? “It’s legal in the whole of North America. We really don’t have any governmental or legislative push back in the US or in Canada in regards to green burials,” says Kalanick.
Elsewhere, it could be a different story: “In Italy, for example, this type of burial would not be allowed,” says Bretzel.
“We’re collecting signatures for a petition to make it legal. But I know that it will be a long way before we can change the rules.”