Available funeral services are evolving rapidly, with options to turn ashes into diamonds or blast remains into space. Sustainable alternatives are especially popular as awareness grows around the negative environmental impacts of popular funeral practices.

Tree pod burials are one of many green burial options generating buzz. This process places the remains into an organic burial pod designed to support tree and plant growth on the surface. While the concept is exciting, only cremation pods have hit the market — body pods aren’t viable yet. 

Learn more about green burial and tree pod alternatives below to decide if they’re right for you. 

What Are Tree Pod Burials?

Tree pod burials are a green alternative to traditional burials. Human remains are wrapped in an organic fiber pod and placed in a biodegradable polymer urn. Once buried, the remains and pod decompose, releasing nutrients into the Earth.

Illustrations compare a simple cremation pod and full body burial pod side-by-side with trees growing from both.

The goal is that released nutrients and microbes support healthy soil for plant and tree growth. Families can choose to plant a tree above the pod to grow in the nutrient-rich soil or allow the body to compost before collecting the soil to use in their garden. 

There are two types of pod burials to know:

  • Body pods: use intact remains that will decompose over time. 
  • Cremation pods: use cremated ashes.

Body pods are the most talked about pod burial, but they’re still under development at Capsula Mundi. There’s not currently an available release date. 

Cremation pods are a natural burial choice you can purchase for yourself or your loved ones. However, it may not be as environmentally beneficial as you hope. 


Tree Burial Pros And Cons

Tree pod burials are supposed to provide a nutrient benefit to plants and offset some of the harm traditional burials cause the environment. While tree pod burials are better than treated caskets, they’re far from the greatest green burial choice. 

The Good
  • Uses untreated remains and burial vessels to reduce ground pollution. 
  • Promotes plant growth that benefits air quality and wildlife. 
  • Provides a natural burial marker families can enjoy for generations. 
  • More affordable than traditional burials.
The Bad
  • High-nutrient body pods aren’t yet available. 
  • Traditionally cremated ashes produce a high carbon footprint.
  • Cremated remains actually harm plants, but the natural fiber pod is designed to reduce this impact.


Tree Pod Burial Costs

Cremation pods are affordable and only cost a couple of hundred dollars — similar to other urn prices. Don’t forget to factor in the cremation cost and price when purchasing your tree or plant. Expect to pay around $2,500 for a cremation and burial pod.

Biodegradable Urn$129-$370
Direct Cremation$2,194
Water Cremation$2,000+
Burial Site$0-$3,581

Body pod costs haven’t been announced yet as of March 2024.


Pod Burial Locations

You can bury your biodegradable urn on private property, natural burial sites, traditional burial grounds, or even some public parks. 

Using private property for your pod burial is one of the easiest choices. You don’t need to pay for the plot your loved one is always nearby, and you can choose to memorialize the space however you like — plaques, flowers, or other grave markers. However, you may lose access to the burial place if the property is sold. 

Traditional burial sites are easy to find, and they’re protected properties that won’t be built over. It’s a great opportunity to bury your loved ones near other family and friends, but not all cemeteries will support burial pods or planted trees. 

Natural sites are a great choice for a true green burial. Different tiers of natural sites may have restrictions on inorganic markers, body treatments, and land management to reduce the effects of burial treatments. Natural plots have prices similar to those of other cemeteries but can be harder to find. 

Public parks, including city, state, and national parks, may also welcome your tree pod burial. These sites are easy to access and may have sentimental ties, like a family vacation or a favorite afternoon walking trail. Many parks are open to volunteers planting trees or native gardens, but you’ll need to contact your park department to learn more. 


Green Burial Alternatives

Tree pods are far from your only sustainable burial option, and it’s far less eco-friendly than some of these other choices. 

  • Human compost: the body is placed with organic materials like wood chips, heated, and stored for 30+ days to break down the body. Uses ⅛ the energy that cremation uses. 
  • Water cremation: a cremation alternative that uses chemicals to cremate the body with a 90% energy savings over fire cremation. 
  • Natural burials: burial of an unembalmed body in an untreated casket or shroud at a natural site. 

Illustration of a body pod burial with the stat that a body composts into soil in 30 days.

While green burials are increasingly popular, these alternatives aren’t available everywhere. Water cremation and human composting are only available in select states. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, tree pod burials are legal in the U.S. There are, however, different rules and requirements for green burials by state, such as using public vs. private property and the depth at which bodies may be buried.

Almost any type of tree is acceptable for burial pods, but it’s helpful to research trees that best grow in your area and region.

The most commonly used tree memorials in the U.S. are:

  • Red Maple
  • Weeping Willow
  • Oak Trees

Any type of “green burial,” such as tree pod burials, that uses biodegradable burial vessels and allows the body to naturally decompose without embalming is a more sustainable option than traditional burials and cremations.


Finalize Your Burial Plans

Whether you’re planning a tree pod burial or are interested in a traditional funeral, burial insurance helps you finalize your end-of-life plans. 

Explore burial insurance providers to guarantee that your final wishes are met and paid for, and give your family peace of mind. 

Choice Mutual often cites third-party websites to provide context and verification for specific claims made in our work. We only link to authoritative websites that provide accurate information. You can learn more about our editorial standards, which guide our mission of delivering factual and impartial content.

  1. Capsula Mundi. https://www.capsulamundi.it/en/
  2. Human compost. https://www.us-funerals.com/human-composting-as-a-new-death-care-alternative-a-guide-to-nor/
  3. 90% energy savings. https://www.mdpi.com/1996-1073/15/4/1457
  4. requirements for green burials by state. https://www.us-funerals.com/green-burial-directory/#.ZBon6uzML0s