Why you should care

Because if you’re a grieving gardener, you might find this either creepy or kinda sweet.

Ideas can germinate in surprising ways and at unexpected times. For the makers of the Bios Urn, their idea took hold one day during the planting season in Barcelona, Spain. And it all began with a dead bird.

As Roger Moliné, CEO of Bios Urn, remembers, his brother was with their grandmother in their garden, planting seeds, when she found a dead bird. “Instinctively, she took the dead bird and put it into a small hole with some of the seed she had on hand.” And from that tender impulse came the inspiration for his Barcelona-based company’s product, a biodegradable container made of coconut shell, compacted peat and cellulose, designed to transform the ashes of a person or pet into a tree.

While the company offers tree seeds through the site, Bios Urn can accommodate any type of seed.

piles of ceramic urns piled up outside a shop in Turkey.

Piles of ceramic urns outside a shop in Turkey

The process is simple. The Bios Urn consists of two capsules: The cremated remains are placed in the lower part of the capsule, while the top part contains the seed, as well as components, such as soil from the location where the urn will be planted, that will allow that seed to germinate and grow. Bios Urn distributes eight different seeds, including oak, maple, pine and beech.

While the company offers tree seeds through the site, Bios Urn can accommodate any type of seed. In fact, the company encourages users to contact local gardeners or tree experts in order to choose a type of tree, flower, bush or plant that will thrive in their areas.

There are probably some folks out there with a green thumb who could forgo the Bios Urn after doing some research, but for those of us who struggle to keep a cactus alive, the Bios Urn, which contains everything you need for successful growth in one compact unit, may be the way to go. Since the company was founded in 1997, it has sold approximately 20,000 urns at a price of approximately $100 each (plus shipping).

Green burials are increasingly popular, says Kathy Curry, who’s run an environmental cemetery in Mill Valley, California, for a decade: “We grow every year.” But Shari Wolf, the founder of a green funeral company in Los Angeles, says the trend is exploding in the places you’d expect — in liberal, crunchy pockets of America like Oregon, Washington and California. And Bios Urn in particular is catching on in Europe, where, according to Moliné, cemeteries in Sweden, France and Spain prepare spaces to plant them. According to the CEO, the urns planted outside of cemeteries are mostly being added to already established forests.

Ah, the circle of life. It gets creepier every day.

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