Not everyone considers the types of burial available to them when they die, much less the actual moment they kick the bucket. However, in this new "green era," people want to look outside the box – or casket, so to speak – for new and unique ways to be buried. These new-age types of burial methods, while potentially blasphemous to your ancestors, actually save you a lot of green, both the plant kind and the money kind. When a person dies, they can be buried beneath a tree or have their ashes pressed into vinyl. Some more ancient methods are even coming back in the modern era. Mummification is in, while home burials offer a more intimate and cost-effective way to inter your loved ones.
Depending on your interests or beliefs, you can likely find a unique way to be buried that suits your own personal needs. Tombstones and mausoleums had their moment – it's time for space burials and cryonics.
Natural burials emerged as part of the growing "green movement" in the funeral industry. True to its name, natural burial takes the process of interring back to the basics. Instead of being embalmed, bodies are simply placed into the ground encased in nothing more than a biodegradable shroud or casket. This allows the bodies to decompose naturally, instead of adding embalming fluid, concrete, steel, and treated wood to the soil. Many natural cemeteries take things even further, creating gardens filled with flowers over the graves instead of a sea of headstones. In addition to being more environmentally conscious, natural burials also eliminate the high costs that come with either cremation or embalming.
Created by Italian designers Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel, "Capsula Mundi" involves burying remains in what look like giant seed pods. Basically, you slip the corpse, usually curled up, inside of a starch-based and completely biodegradable capsule. Before the person dies, they select the type of tree they want to grow into, which is then planted above them. Their body then feeds the tree as it decomposes. Through this process, the minds behind Capsula Mundi hope to turn "cold, gray" cemeteries into beautiful woodlands.
Becoming part of a coral reef emerged as one of the newer "green burial" options, one which definitely appeals to nature lovers. Located in the state of Georgia, Eternal Reefs takes human cremains and mixes them into concrete, creating large spheres that eventually get lowered into the ocean. Placed into areas where the reefs need help rebuilding and healing, the spheres become new homes for both fish and coral. Today, over 1,500 eternal reefs rest off the coastal United States.
People who hold home funerals and burials are actually doing exactly what many of our ancestors used to do, just with a modern spin. Instead of using embalming fluid, you preserve the body using dry ice. They bodies are buried on the family's property (or sometimes in a natural cemetery), and it's the family, not a funeral home, who does all of the preparations for the body. Many see these funerals as a green alternative and as a means for families to become more connected to the burial process of their loved one.