The company offers natural burials in which the deceased is wrapped in biodegradable linen shrouds and placed into a shallow grave lined with wood chips, hay, soil and fungi. A sapling is then planted on the site (called a grove) and fed with the nutrients of the decomposing body. All trees are native to the area they’re growing in, and each is affixed with a plaque, so family members can easily return to pay their respects. Transcend aims to establish its first ‘forest cemeteries’ within two hours of major cities in 2023. And to ensure the land can’t be developed, it will be protected by conservation easements.
While we’ve seen an upsurge in proactive end-of-life planning, the start-up acknowledges that many progressive young people (its target audience) are still likely to delay such decisions. To convert curiosity into sales, it promises to plant 1,000 trees for each grove reserved. It also provides services for pets, selling kits for owners to perform tree burials for their furry friends in their backyards.
As taboos around death recede, it’s essential that the environmental impact of conventional burials and cremations becomes a topic of debate. And while there’s an uptick in companies offering eco-minded services – see US-based Recompose’s human composting – multiple options are key to making this new approach seem accessible to a wide audience.