What's a Biodegradable Urn?


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With so much pressure on the environment right now, it’s hard not to think about the future. It’s time to start paying closer attention to how we treat our planet. This doesn’t just include how we live our lives in the present. It also matters how we plan for death. Biodegradable urns are a sustainable way to memorialize yourself or a loved one. 

A biodegradable urn isn’t all that different from a traditional urn. However, instead of sitting on display, biodegradable urns are buried on land or at sea. As the name implies, biodegradable urns will naturally biodegrade over time. When you choose a biodegradable urn for yourself or a loved one, you know the ashes will return to nature in an eco-friendly way. 

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There are several different types of biodegradable urns to choose from. There are tree pods, paper urns, water urns, and even rock salt urns. These are a powerful way to personalize the burial experience for yourself or your loved one. Because these types of urns are all about returning to nature, they allow for a burial or ash scattering ceremony outdoors. This type of funeral or memorial is a powerful way to bring peace to any ceremony. 

With the rise in popularity of natural burials, there has never been a better time to learn about biodegradable urns. Handle end of life planning with confidence by knowing the latest options when it comes to urns. In this guide, we’ll explore the different types of biodegradable urns, how they work, and where to find them.

Tip: If you're looking for something very unique (think a favorite hobby, their beloved car, or instrument of choice), you can custom order an urn from a store like Foreverence. You submit a design idea or sketch, then the company designs and 3D prints your urn, so you get a 100% unique container.

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How Does a Biodegradable Urn Work?

Biodegradable urns are designed for use either on land or water. They are common for both burials or scattering ceremonies. Each type works a bit differently, but the urn is always placed in an environment where it will naturally biodegrade over time. 

These urns use non-toxic, biodegradable materials that cause no harm to the environment. Let’s take a look at the most common types you’ll find on the market today.

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Tree pods or a tree cemetery

One of the most popular types of natural burials today is a tree burial. With a tree burial or tree ceremony, the ashes are placed in a biodegradable urn usually shaped like an egg or tube. This urn will actually grow into a tree when buried. This is a lovely way to bring about a transformation from ashes into a new life. 

For a tree pod burial, you fill the capsule with the remains and place a tree seed inside the capsule. You will usually have the option to choose which seed you’d like to use. From there, you plant the urn where you want the tree to grow. It’s that simple.

Paper and fiber urns

Most paper is naturally biodegradable, and this makes it a great choice for biodegradable urns. You can find paper and fiber urns in a variety of materials like hemp, fabric, sand, and even cornstarch. They usually include other natural materials embedded within them like seeds or flowers. 

Paper and fiber urns are unique because they come in a variety of shapes. You can find simple tubes or spheres, but also shells, fish, envelopes, and hearts. With a paper and fiber urn, there’s usually a biodegradable bag within the container for placing ashes securely. They sometimes also include a section for mementos or messages. 

These types of urns can be used in several ways. They can be displayed like a traditional urn, buried within the ground, or used in a water burial. They’re customizable and relatively inexpensive, making them a great choice for any ceremony.

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Water urns

Water burials are a type of ash scattering ceremony in which the ashes are scattered either on or directly into a body of water. However, this type of scattering isn’t always easy. A breezy day can make it hard to spread cremated remains into the water. Biodegradable water urns make this a much simpler process. 

For a water burial, the cremated remains rest inside the urn which is specifically designed for water. They usually float for a short period. During this time, it’s possible to host a short memorial service. When the urn begins to sink below the water’s surface, it will biodegrade. This process can take anywhere from minutes to days depending on the material. 

Water urns are made of non-toxic materials like mulberry bark, natural clay, cast paper, or water-soluble bags. In addition, many urns help marine life with added nutrients within the materials. Again, this is a customizable option that fits your needs.

Rock salt urn

The last type of biodegradable urn is actually made with rock salt. These are for both water or land burials. However, these urns are not suitable for long-term display since they’ll naturally attract moisture. 

With a rock salt urn, the ashes are placed within the salt casing. These urns are usually individually hand-made from blocks of Himalayan rock salt. These salt deposits are believed to be over 250 million years old, making each urn unique in appearance. 

If used in a water burial, these urns usually dissolve within 4 hours. They won’t float on their own, so keep that in mind if you’re planning a ceremony. Rock salt urns can also be buried within the earth where they will slowly biodegrade over time. 

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Can You Make a Biodegradable Urn?

If you would like to create something unique and personal, you can make your own biodegradable urn. It’s easier than you think, and you might have materials already in your home. All you need is something biodegradable to create the container with. Here are some ideas:

The process can be as simple or complex as you’d like. You could add your own seeds into the ground and mix ashes and soil to create your own DIY tree pod. You could also create a paper mache shape complete with handwritten messages from loved ones. 

Or, to keep things simple, you could scatter ashes from a water-soluble bag into the ocean. Biodegradable urns take all forms, and there’s no single “best” choice.

Where Can You Buy a Biodegradable Urn?

If you plan to purchase a biodegradable urn, you have a lot of options. Since burial alternatives are becoming more popular, these are no longer as hard to find as they were several years ago. 

Many crematories and funeral homes can recommend specific biodegradable urns depending on your needs. They might also have some on hand for purchase. However, it pays to do your research to know which option is best for you or your family member. 

When searching for a biodegradable urn to buy, pay close attention to the materials. Since this is such a growing trend, many suppliers might be misleading about what their urns are made of. Make sure everything is eco-friendly, safe, and secure.

Also, consider any extras you’d like included with your urn. For instance, do you want your biodegradable urn to offer nutrients to the ground or marine life? What type of tree would you like if you’re choosing a tree pod? These are the questions worth asking when doing your research into urn options. 

Is a Biodegradable Urn Right For You?

Choosing a biodegradable urn for yourself or your loved one is a great way to create a sustainable burial. It’s also a powerful way to feel connected with nature. Whether you’re preparing for the funeral of a loved one or beginning your own end-of-life planning, a biodegradable urn is worth considering. 

With so many burial alternatives to choose from, it’s easy to see why this trend is quickly taking off in popularity. Whether the remains return to land or water, this is a choice that truly celebrates a return to nature.

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