Ecopod: Biodegradable Burial with Style

Ecopod burial chests are made from paper, mulberry leaves and natural hardeners. Photo: Courtesy of Ecopod.No one gets out of here alive, but you don't necessarily have to go first class.

There is no shame in surrendering our cherished departed, and sooner or later ourselves, to the tender embrace of the earth. It is a ceremony of reunion between body and soil, not to be restrained by synthetic preservation.

A green goodbye means no toxic embalming chemicals such as formaldehyde, and no glitzy, semiprecious metal caskets. This is, perhaps, the final gesture of reuse and renewal. We're talking simply green, but nowhere does it say it can't be done in screamin' style!

When it is time for my last prance down the catwalk, I want to be encased in something as sleek as an eel skin platform pump, and as glamorous as a Mongolian lamb vest—but an obviously greener and cruelty-free version.

The Egyptian-looking Ecopod is a fashion must for those of us who care what we wear, but rather than fur, would prefer to go bare. It costs $5,000, and weighing just 45 pounds, it can be easily transported to the gravesite.

Hard-pressed from 100 percent luxurious recycled paper or mulberry leaves and shaped into the figure of a seed pod, this natural burial chest was designed by English midwife Hazel Selina. This green art beauty was designed to help hearten the woodland burial movement in Old Blighty.

This new design in chic burial brings together artisan skills with style, elegance, and a respect for the environment, according to I believe these gems are up to the moment for eco-eccentrics who want to make a fashion statement while flaunting their green credentials.

The Ecopod is offered in a variety of trendy colors, and screen printed designs are readily available. Avoiding synthetic and non-natural materials in your burial clothing (if you chose an ensemble at all) is a must for complete biodegradable fashion. And maybe a quick scrub; it's not too bad of an idea to clean before you green.

Cynthia Beal is Ecopod's sole importer in the U.S.

"I've had the great experience of feeding people," says Beal, who formerly owned a natural foods store. "Now I get to compost them."

Long after the advent of biodegradable packaging, here's the last package you'll ever need.

"My hope is that after I've had these in circulation for a while, we'll see artists from around the country deciding that they can make something like that and do it here. Depending on the soil, the Ecopods will get wet and soft within a few weeks and degrade in as little as six months," she says.

This is a fashionable beginning on the journey of many biodegradable coffins, which allow nature to take its course with the remains, rather than preserving them uselessly. Green-burial proponents hold that our bodies don't disobey us in death so much as they obey the dictates of time and nature.

These super savvy pods save a lot of wood, save energy used in cremation, and will compress during burial, so graves won't sink when the coffin eventually collapses.

Biodegradable doesn't have to be drab. Ecopods are available in red with an Aztec sun design, blue with white doves, and all-white—ready to be customized.

Strive for green karma in life and in death. To live the green life is to live the good life.

By Elizabeth Fournier| March 10, 2010
Categories:  Live

About the Author

Elizabeth Fournier

Elizabeth Fournier

Elizabeth Fournier is affectionately known as The Green Reaper in her tiny community of Boring, Oregon. She is the owner of Cornerstone Funeral Services and works as a green mortician, educator and advocate who is always ready to lend a hand, or a shovel. She is also the voice of the autopsy exhibit in the forensic wing at the United States National Museum of Medicine.

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