All of the atoms in our bodies were forged in the core of stars. Once those stars exploded and died, those elements were scattered throughout the universe, existing as countless other things over billions of years until they finally came together to form each of us. It's one of most profound and beautiful facts nature has to offer.
Unfortunately, the modern burial practices stop those atoms from continuing in this cyclical cosmic journey. Embalmed bodies are trapped within sealed vaults, never to be seen again. This problem is twofold, as cemeteries require clearing large sections of land and ecosystems are disrupted.
It doesn't have to be that way and one company is proving it.
Bios Urn is a biodegradable urn that uses the ashes of a loved one to fertilize the seed of a tree. The concept for the urn capable of facilitating biological transformation came to CEO Roger Moliné years ago.
"One afternoon my brother was planting some vegetables with my grandmother. They were in the orchard when suddenly our grandmother found a dead bird lying on the floor," Moliné told A Plus in an email. "Instinctively, without thinking too much, she took the dead bird, made a small hole in the floor and threw on it both the dead bird, with some of the seeds she had on her hand. That action, or better said, that reaction is what inspired the Bios Urn. A product that could use the remains of someone or something that passed away, and convert it into a new form of life."
Conception of the urn began in 2013, in his brother Gerard's Barcelona design studio. They finally came up with a brown fibrous vessel for ashes, which favorably alters the soil conditions for the soil and seed located in the top. When planted in the ground, the container readily decomposes and a tree emerges on top.
For several months at the beginning, the project was self-funded, but little by little, their work attracted attention and investors.
"When we started with the project we had no idea about what would happen. We thought, 'if this is useful for us, it could be for others,' so we built a website and we started a huge communication task," Moliné explained to A Plus. "We never made a market research or any business plan setting up some goals in terms of sales. Frankly the only reason why we were doing that was to discover the reaction of people ... And that was amazing!"
They have sold tens of thousands of urns on four continents already and are looking forward to growing in the future.
While the ecological appeal is apparent, Moliné found that it resonated with people on an almost spiritual level as well.
The full weight of what Bios Urn actually meant to people became starkly clear after receiving an email from a man named Bill. Bill had bought an urn for himself after being diagnosed with terminal cancer that was spreading through his body.
The urn, though simple in and of itself, holds great meaning for Bill:
I have my Bios Urn actually sitting in its box on a shelf in my laundry room where I see it about once a week, and it gives me pause. On the one hand, it's the reminder that I'm not long for the world, a year at best at this point, but on the other, I know I'll become a greater part of the energy of the world. There's a soothing quality to that. My urn, seeds, and tree will be placed at the family homestead, a home that has seen generations, and will see many more. So, I'll never be far from the people I love and who love me.
This email, and similar testimonials of how much this meant to others, prompted Moliné to visit California and meet some of Bios Urn's first customers face to face. Their stories were compiled into a video, which you can see below:
The video comes from a genuine place of compassion, as Moliné knows exactly what his customers are going through.
"When my father passed away a year ago now, I had what's probably the worst moment of my life. All the process was horrible, from the hospital to the funeral home ... everything was so bad designed. Nobody took care of the emotions or the experience and loss of the ones who go through that process. I just felt alone being in front of a company who wanted to take profit from the situation I was living," he recalls.
"That made me realize how much we can change with Bios Urn. Going to a mountain or a forest with family or friends and planting a tree instead of burying a (casket), makes the process much more appealing. With Bios Urn we can propose a different ritual that takes care of the emotions in a different way and explains that process of death from the side of life. That's why I will always admire those pioneers who in the middle of the worst moment of their life, they opened a website, bought a Bios Urn and had the strength to replace a cemetery with a forest."