Imagine yourself as a majestic redwood tree, rising above the lowly earth, wearing a mantle of fog and living in perfect harmony with hundreds of organisms. A life human beings would to marvel at.
California startup Better Place Forests buys forests and sells people rights to spread their cremated remains around a tree of their choice. The tree memorial could also be for the whole family, including pets. The company’s forests are permanently protected, and the tree belongs to the family forever. It does not offer cremation services.
This is how it works. You choose your forest from sweeping coastal woodlands to secluded mountain groves. Then you take a forest tour, either in-person or online, to choose your tree with the help of the company’s knowledgeable forest stewards. When it’s time, the company will help your family spread ashes beneath your tree.
Better Place Forests renaturalizes the ashes by rebalancing their pH and mixing them with local soil to ensure they nourish the earth beneath your tree.
Your family can hold a memorial service, participate in the spreading of the ashes and visit any time afterwards. The land around the tree is private to your family and permanently protected. Better Place Forests landscapes and maintains the land forever. Their first memorial forest is a redwood forest overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Mendocino County, CA.
Depending on the options you choose, such as the forest and the size and species of the tree, the pricing usually ranges from ~$2,900 to $25,000, according to the information available on the website of the company.
One of the founders and CEO Sandy Gibson started Better Place Forests in 2015 to honour the memory of his parents. He lost his parents at a young age, and grew up going to a loud, noisy cemetery in downtown Toronto.
“After working in the software and finance industries for ten years, I knew I needed to build something more meaningful… something that was a source of positive change in the world. I reflected on the stress and worry my mother experienced while making end-of-life decisions for my father in the wake of her own bereavement. I recalled my own experiences visiting my parent’s gravesites as loud buses rumbled past behind me and I thought there has to be a better way…. and a better place than this,” writes Gibson on the website. “Better Place Forests was born out of these experiences and a desire to enable families to write a better end to their story and establish a lasting legacy while conserving some of the most beautiful natural land in North America.” Visit the Better Place Forests website for more information.