Green burials (burials meant to have minimal impact on the environment) have gained popularity in recent years. Several companies and even some funeral homes offer services which allow for chemical-free burials in biodegradable caskets. Some designers have even proposed ways to grow trees from the bodies of loved ones after burial. But what about those who choose cremation?
The Bios Urn, launched in 2014, allows one to grow a tree from the ashes of a loved one or pet. Now, a new accessory for the urn has been launched: Incube, an app-controlled tree incubator which makes the growing process easier.
Although the Bios Urn can still be purchased on its own, the incube may be a great solution for those who worry about their ability to properly care for a tree, and for those who wish to keep their loved ones and their tree close by. The original Bios Urn had to be planted outside, but the Incube functions as a large planting pot of sorts, allowing users to put their Bios Urn directly inside while their tree is in its first stages of growth. It is worth noting that the Incube features a sleek, minimalist design which would blend in with just about any decor and looks decidedly un-urn like.
According to the official Incube product video on the Bios Urn website, the Incube features three main parts: the exterior "pot" portion, into which the urn itself is placed, the "monitor" portion, which is placed atop the soil and serves to both monitor the tree's condition and provide water, and the app portion, which displays information from the monitor portion on the Bios Urn owner's smartphone.
The pot portion of the Incube system also contains the systems's watering tank. Incube can hold up to 5 gallons of water, and can water the tree for up to three weeks. The system does require minimal charging (about 30 minutes of charging is needed every three weeks) but it is simple to do so, as the "pot" portion of the Incube comes with a build in USB port.
The monitor portion of the Incube keeps track of everything a Bios Urn owner could need or want to know regarding their tree's development. This includes soil moisture, air temperature, and the tree's rate of growth. This information is displayed in an easy-to-understand format via the Incube app. According to the official product video, this app communicates with users via "the same channels you use to communicate with other people." The app also alerts users when the Incube needs to be charged, and when the water tank needs to be refilled.
It is worth noting that a Bios Urn tree, grown with Incube, will not be able to remain indoors forever. Tree roots need room to spread, so once an incubated tree reaches a certain stage in development, the Bios Urn owner will be alerted that it is time to move their urn outside for permanent planting.
In Western society, death is a concept which tends to go under discussed. Companies like Bios Urn seem poised to change that, turning the conversation in a hopeful, planet-friendly direction. It is a goal expressly stated on the company's website, which reads, "Bios aims to change the way people see death, converting the “end of life” into a transformative process and promoting a return to life through nature."
The idea of a natural cycle of life and death, which can be openly discussed, is central to the green burial movement. Companies like Bios Urn may help to initiate a cultural shift surrounding death--a shift not just toward more planet-friendly burials, but toward a more optimistic and open attitude regarding the entire process.