Tree Pod Burial: An Organic, Biodegradable Choice (PLUS COST)

Kim Wilhelm CEO of Final Expense Direct Life Insurance
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Written by Kim Wilhelm

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Last Updated 03 Dec 2022

Although the National Funeral Directors Association’s (NFDA) 2021 Cremation and Burial Report shows an increase in religious ceremonies, it also shows an increase in cremations.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, 28% of Americans report a stronger sense of faith, with religion gaining a significant importance in funeral proceedings. The percentage in the 2021 report sits at 47.3%, whereas in 2012, only 35.4% of Americans over 40 found religion to be an important funeral component.

While we have always seen religion as a traditional funeral element, cremation has not. However, with more God Fearing Americans willing to blend old traditions with modern elements, cremation has increased in favor. 

In 2020, almost 61% of NFDA-member funeral homes saw an increase in cremation rates. The NFDA predicts that by 2035, cremation will exceed 50% countrywide.

Cremation is not the only preferred method seeing a rise in America's behavior. As we grapple with climate change and reducing our carbon footprint, organic burial, also called green burial, is increasing as well.

What is Green Burial?

A green burial is a method of burial that uses only biodegradable or renewable materials in the funeral process. Rather than using toxic embalming fluid to preserve the body, refrigeration or dry ice is used instead. 

Biodegradable shrouds, caskets, and urns also take the place of concrete, metal, and treated wood materials. Organic burial is one such method of green burial. There are a few methods you can use, but today we’ll focus on tree pod burial.

What is a Tree Pod Burial?

A tree pod burial is an organic burial method. Cremated remains are put inside a biodegradable tree pod and buried underneath a tree.

The tree pod breaks down over time, along with the decomposing remains. Bacteria in the soil break down the nutrients, creating fertilizer to work with other organic materials that will balance the nutrients in the soil, allowing the tree to grow and thrive for decades to come.

The organic burial method using a tree pod is an eco-friendly way to reduce waste and feel good about your final resting place on God’s Earth under a beautiful tree.

How Can I Be Buried as a Tree?

An organic burial using a tree pod works like this:

  1. Cremate the body and wait until they return the ashes.

  2. Place the cremated remains into the tree pod burial vessel.

  3. Place additional nutrients or other items necessary for the tree’s health into the top of the burial pod. This will put the nutrients closest to the tree’s roots once planted.

  4. Plant the tree pod in the place of your choosing.

  5. Place the tree on top and pack in dirt to start the growing process.

  6. As the pod biodegrades, the ashes will mix with the materials, producing macronutrients the tree will use as fertilizer.

  7. Eventually, the pod will decompose completely, leaving no waste behind.

The tree serves as a substitute for the traditional headstone or grave marker. Once the tree reaches a certain level of maturity, your loved ones may wish to carve your information in the trunk to further memorialize your life here on Earth and showcase your environmental stewardship.

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What Type of Tree is Best for a Tree Pod Burial?

If you choose the tree pod burial method, you can use any type of tree that will grow best in your area. Trees that are around 2 to 4 feet in height with a healthy and established root system are best when used as a memorial.

The most common trees memorials in the United States are:

  • Red maple

  • Oak

  • Dogwood

  • Weeping willow

  • Crepe myrtle

  • Flowering cherry

  • Sugar maple

  • Pine varieties

  • Tulip poplar

  • Cypress

  • Koa

  • Eastern redbud

  • Ginkgo biloba

  • Sourwood

  • Sycamore

You could also use a variety of shrubs, such as azaleas, gardenias, and hydrangeas.

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What Are Some Tree Pod Burial Locations?

With organic burial methods on the rise, more locations are providing areas for green burials. You can have a natural burial legally in all 50 states. If you have permission, you can have a tree pod burial on private or public lands.

There are also natural burial grounds with dedicated green burial spaces. There are conservation cemeteries that do not allow development, instead dedicating the natural land to preservation and restoration.

Another option is a hybrid cemetery, which has some dedicated space for organic burials. If you wish to have an organic burial, there are certain legal burial requirements you may have to comply with, depending on the state of burial.

Are Tree Burial Pods Legal in the U.S.?

Yes, tree burial pods are legal in the U.S. If you don’t have a place on private or public land for an organic burial, you may have to search for one. US Funerals offers a green burial directory, with 166 locations across the U.S.

The more people who want an organic burial, the more locations that will open up for natural burials. If you wish to have a green burial, make sure your wishes are known by your loved ones prior to death so they can honor them when the Good Lord calls you home.

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How Much Does it Cost to Be Buried in a Tree Pod?

It is cost effective to be buried in a tree pod, though the largest expense would be cremation costs. A cremation with service and viewing costs between $4,000 and $7,000. If you want a direct cremation, meaning your body goes straight to the crematory after death without a service or viewing, the cost is between $2,000 and $5,000.

You have several options when choosing your burial tree pod:

  • Bios Urns are between $99 to $150 for the plantable urn system. If you wish to have an urn that can move with you, you can purchase the Bios Incube Lite, which is $295. Bios Urns also offers an option for your pet, which costs $99.

  • The Living Urn is another option, costing $129. Like Bios Urns, you can get an indoor version, which will cost between $129 and $329. The Living Urn also has family plans and other urn options available.

  • Capsula Mundi, meaning “world’s capsule” in Latin, is an Italian company offering tree pod urns for $370. 

These prices don’t include the cost of a tree, which can run $125 or more, depending on the variety and size. The Living Urn will ship a tree and the urn, if you wish.

If you have burial insurance or another form of life insurance, it can help pay for some or all of the cost of a tree pod burial. Contact Final Expense Direct today to get a quote for burial insurance, or get a quote online.

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FAQs on Tree Burial Pod

How Much is a Burial Tree Pod?

How much a burial tree pod is between $99 and $400, depending on the company you purchase the tree pod from. The cost does not include the cost of the tree that you’ll bury the pod under. Depending on the type of tree you choose, expect to pay at least $125 more.

Can I Be Buried in a Tree Pod?

Yes, you can be buried in a tree pod if you wish. An organic burial, also called a natural or green burial, is legal in all 50 states. There may be certain requirements you have to meet, such as the depth the body has to be buried at, so be sure to check your state’s requirements. A burial can also occur on private or public lands if you have permission. There are also natural burial grounds, conservation cemeteries, and hybrid cemeteries they could bury you at.

How Much Does it Cost to Have Your Body Turned Into a Tree?

How much it costs to have your body turned into a tree depends on a few factors. Cremation is the first step of the process, which can cost up to $5,000. You also have to pay for the tree burial pod, which can cost from $99 to $400. Plus, you have to pay for the mature tree, which will be at least another $125. There may be additional maintenance costs to support the tree’s growth and you could have to pay burial fees, depending on where the tree is planted.

What Does it Mean to be Buried Under a Tree?

To be buried under a tree means to have your cremated ashes put directly into the ground (in small amounts so as not to damage the tree’s growth cycle) or placed into a tree burial pod, then buried under a mature tree. The macronutrients in your decomposing body, along with ash-neutralizing agents, will help nourish the tree as it grows.

Can You Plant a Tree With Human Ashes?

Yes, you can plant a tree with human ashes. However, the concentration of calcium, potassium, phosphates, sodium, and other elements from your cremated remains could cause harm to the tree and prevent healthy growth. If you choose to use human ashes directly in the soil, use a tiny amount spread around or under the root ball. A better and healthier solution for the tree is to use a tree pod burial.

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