Organic burial pods are an opportunity to avoid many of the environmental consequences associated with the funeral industry. Through innovative design and company policies that put the environment and the well-being of workers first, these pods might just be the push that the industry needs to evolve into something better.
This complete guide to organic burial pods covers all the costs, various state laws, and everything you need to know about tree pod burial as unique final resting place.
The Complete Guide to Organic Burial Pods
It is heartbreaking to realize that the processes that we often use to inter our loved ones (embalming, cremation, and casket burials) are not without serious environmental consequences. In fact, the death industry is responsible for releasing toxic chemicals into the environment, exposing funerary workers to hazardous waste, and wasting land and water on memorial cemeteries. For an industry that is part of most every life, it plays a serious role in the destruction of our natural resources.
But in 2022, creative, independent developers are proposing new, eco-friendly ways of burying and honoring our dead. That’s where organic burial pods come in. 1
These pods, perhaps better called “urns,” are an innovative funeral method in which the body, after being cremated, is placed within an urn, and buried beneath a tree. As the urn, made of biodegradable material, decomposes, it releases the ashes into the ground, thus feeding the tree.
While this doesn’t minimize the environmental cost of cremation, it does allow you to give back to the environment as a mixture of ash and soil can be a particularly potent fertilizer. And, in the months and years following a loved one’s passing, you will be rewarded with a tree as a monument and memorial to their life.
Organic burial pods might be the first step into the future of funeral practices, but it comes with its own complexities, particularly when it comes to deciding whether you can plant your pod on private property.
Are Organic Burial Pods Legal In US: Federal and State Laws about Tree Pod Burial
Organic burial pods like the Capsula Mundi or the Bio Urn can legally be used within the United States. However, each state has its own laws, rules, and regulations for natural burials.
As such, you must consult local zoning laws to determine whether an organic burial pod can be planted on private land or must be removed to a cemetery. Some states also require that a funeral director helps organize the interment or is present for the burial process. This information is similarly available, although not always easily accessible.
Below, you will find links to each state’s legislature on the disposition of human remains. While this list is a good place to get started, you may want to get in contact with a funeral director who will be able to clarify the nuances of the law in your specific state.
It is also important to remember that natural burial practices are still being developed and debated, so some of the information in these documents will change in the near future. 2
States That Allow Private Property Burials
There are many states that allow for the burial of human remains on private property, though there are often specific requirements that need to be met and paperwork that needs to be filled out prior to the burial. Certain states even allow you to define a portion of your land as a cemetery for home burials, though there are others that have strict regulations against burying human remains on private property. Many states near coastal areas also prohibit in-ground burials, for safety and sanitation reasons.
While the previous set of documents will help you decide how to approach setting up a funeral, here is a list of the states that allow home burials, though they all require you to first consult zoning laws before creating a home cemetery or burying remains on private land. Remember, it’s always a good idea to know the law first, and make sure you’re in compliance to prevent costly and heartbreaking complications later.
|State||Private Burial Laws|
|Alabama||You are legally required to hire a funeral director for consultation on the funeral.|
|Alaska||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Arizona||You do not need a funeral director. However, the body must be embalmed or refrigerated if it is not being disposed of within 24 hours.|
|California||Private property burials are only allowed if you apply for a special permit.|
|Colorado||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Connecticut||You are legally required to hire a funeral director for consultation on the funeral. The body does not need to be embalmed unless the person died from a contagious disease; it can be refrigerated until burial.|
|Delaware||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Florida||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Georgia||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Hawaii||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Idaho||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Illinois||You are legally required to hire a funeral director for consultation on the funeral.|
|Indiana||Private property burials are only allowed if you apply for a special permit. You are legally required to hire a funeral director for consultation on the funeral.|
|Iowa||You are legally required to hire a funeral director for consultation on the funeral.|
|Kansas||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Kentucky||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Louisiana||Private property burials are only allowed if you apply for a special permit.|
|Maine||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Maryland||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Massachusetts||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Michigan||Private property burials are only allowed if you apply for a special permit.|
|Minnesota||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Mississippi||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Missouri||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Montana||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Nebraska||Private property burials are only allowed if you apply for a special permit.|
|Nevada||You do not need a funeral director.|
|New Hampshire||You do not need a funeral director.|
|New Jersey||Private property burials are only allowed if you apply for a special permit.|
|New Mexico||You do not need a funeral director.|
|New York||Private property burials are only allowed if you apply for a special permit.|
|North Carolina||You do not need a funeral director.|
|North Dakota||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Ohio||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Oklahoma||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Oregon||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Pennsylvania||You do not need a funeral director. The body must be refrigerated if it is not disposed of within 24 hours.|
|Rhode Island||You do not need a funeral director.|
|South Carolina||You do not need a funeral director.|
|South Dakota||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Tennessee||You do not need a funeral director. Embalming is not required; the body can be frozen until it is disposed of. You do not need to use a casket.|
|Texas||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Utah||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Vermont||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Virginia||You do not need a funeral director.|
|West Virginia||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Wisconsin||You do not need a funeral director.|
|Wyoming||You do not need a funeral director. 6|
How Much Do Organic Burial Pods Cost (Organic Burial Pods Price)?
Due to the sudden surge in interest, there are now several organic burial pod options on the market, so it’s up to you to decide which one best fits your budget. Below, you will find the most prominent and well-reviewed burial pods and their prices.
- Sand/White Capsula Mundi: The Capsula Mundi biodegradable urn comes in two different colors and is made from biodegradable polymer. The product does not come with a sapling, you purchase that. It’s currently priced at $330.00 USD.7
- The Living Urn: This organic burial pod is made from recycled plant matter and is produced without glue, chemicals, or machinery. The product can come with a sapling for an additional cost, or you can choose one that will work with the organic burial pod. The urn is currently priced at $129.00 USD. 8
- Bios Urn: This organic burial pod is made from biodegradable material and comes in two sizes: standard or pet-sized. They do not come with a sapling, so that is your responsibility. The standard urn is $140.00 USD, and the pet-sized urn is $99.00 USD.9
These are all high quality urns from companies that are dedicated to minimizing the environmental footprint of their products, and given the price of traditional interment, these options are very economical. However, you should consider that cremation does create harmful carbon emissions and is not the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of human remains.
That being said, these urns really do make a difference, and are a must buy if you or your loved one has decided to be cremated.
Is It Cheaper for Pets? Organic Burial Pods Cost for Humans
Yes, organic burial pods for pets are cheaper, while still providing the same benefits as those for humans. There aren’t that many products designed for pets, but the one listed in the previous section, the pet-sized Bios Urn is just $99.00 USD. Like the standard Bios Urn, it does not come with a sapling, but it does contain everything you need to lay your furry friend to rest.
Like the standard urn, the shell eventually breaks down, allowing the ashes inside to mix with the soul and fertilize the plant above.
How Do Organic Burial Pods Work?
Organic burial pods are a really easy and budget friendly alternative to embalming and burying a human body. Not only are they more environmentally friendly, but, in most cases, you end up with a beautiful tree that serves as a memorial for your loved one.
But how do they actually work?
It’s quite simple.
- After the body is cremated and ashes are returned to the family, they are placed within the burial pod.
- The burial pod is reassembled with any additional nutrients or other packages added to the top (closest to the tree roots).
- The pod is then planted in the ground and, if you’ve so chosen, a tree is planted above the pod.
- As the pod degrades, the ashes mix with the soil becoming a great source of potassium, phosphorous, and magnesium. These macro-nutrients are then used by the tree as fertilizer.
- The pod will eventually be dispersed throughout the soil and will leave no waste behind.10
Frequently Asked Questions About Tree Pod Burial
The use of organic burial pods is a relatively new concept, and many people find they have a lot of questions about them. The following are some of the most frequently asked.
How Much Does Tree Pod Burial Cost?
Right now, tree pod burial pods cost anywhere from $99.00 to $330.00 USD. However, this price range doesn’t account for the cost of a new sapling which can cost upwards of $55.00 USD, depending on the tree you choose.
This price also doesn’t accurately convey how much you will be spending on the funeral as cremation can cost anywhere from $1000.00 to $4000.00 USD depending on the state.
Overall, you’ll be paying between $1100.00 and $4500.00 for all of the materials and preparation.
This may initially seem quite costly, and it certainly is, but when compared to the literal and environmental cost of embalming and burying a human body, it seems quite reasonable. This is part of the reason that organic burial pods have become so popular in the last several years; they offer both budgetary relief and a smaller environmental impact. Plus, the tree will continue to sequester carbon throughout its lifetime as well.
Is a Cocoon Tree Pod Burial Cost the Same as Organic Burial?
Cocoon tree pod burial methods are still being researched and developed so there’s no definitive price tag for this sort of burial. However, according to the creators of Capsula Mundi, the cocoon tree pods will cost more than the average organic burial pod simply by virtue of being a more resource and time-intensive product.
These cocoon tree pods will be able to hold a human body without the need for cremation. Because of this, they will offer a more eco-friendly burial option than those currently on the market. 11
The organic burial pod is a huge step forward in environmentally conscious design in the funeral industry. Of course, it’s not perfect: it can’t undo the damage to the planet caused by crematoriums, but it’s only the first step forward.
The next step could be the cocoon tree pod which, given the support it needs to become a popular alternative to traditional burials, but it could revolutionize how people approach the internment of human remains.
If you’re interested in reducing more of your impact on the planet, there are many tree planting carbon offset program available from the top carbon offset providers. By calculating your emissions footprint, you can learn exactly how much to erase each month by planting trees to restore degraded areas in the rain forests and around the world. By offering nature a better and natural way to clean the atmosphere and eliminate greenhouse gases, you can not only life a completely carbon neutral lifestyle, but also support healthy wildlife habitats and other ecosystems.
But, until the time comes when all emissions are eliminated, it’s possible that given the success of the organic burial pod, we will someday see cemeteries where each gravestone has been replaced by a tree.
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2Osmanski, S. (2020, 3 March). Everything to Know About Organic Burial Pods. Retrieved November 15, 2021, from Green Matters: <https://www.greenmatters.com/p/organic-burial-pods>
3Keene, V. (2021). Burial & Cremation Laws in Arkansas. Retrieved November 14, 2021, from Nolo: <https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/burial-cremation-laws-arkansas.html>
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52010 Wyoming Statutes, Title 35 – Public Health and Safety, Chapter 8 – Cemeteries and Burials. (2021). Retrieved November 14, 2021, from Justia: US Law: <https://law.justia.com/codes/wyoming/2010/Title35/chapter8.html>
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7Capsula Mundi Shop. (2021). Retrieved November 13, 2021, from Capsula Mundi: <https://www.capsulamundi.it/shop/>
8What is The Living Urn? (2021). Retrieved November 13, 2021, from The Living Urn: <https://www.thelivingurn.com/>
9Buy Bios Urn. (2021). Retrieved November 14, 2021, from Bios: <https://urnabios.com/product/urn/>
10Home. (2021). Retrieved November 13, 2021, from Capsula Mundi: <https://www.capsulamundi.it/en/>
11Wight, K. (2020, October 12). How Eco-Friendly Tree Pod Burials Work: Cost, Process & Impact. Retrieved November 15, 2021, from Cake: <https://www.joincake.com/blog/how-tree-pod-burials-work/>