Rest in potato

Capsula Mundi burial pods
Italy (Rome)

Now you really can be a tree… when you’re six feet under. It might not seem so,  but two Italian designers are being ‘dead’ serious about their idea of a perfect eco-friendly circle of life.

Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel have created a biodegradable burial pod that transforms your earthly remains into a tree through natural decomposition. As traditional burials practices leach toxic chemicals from the embalming process into the air and cremation releases noxious chemicals into the atmosphere, the pair designed Capsula Mundi ‘death pods’ to provide an afterlife of eco-consciousness – even when you are unconscious.

Made of biodegradable natural starch plastic, the potato-shaped pods are buried as a seed in the earth. Over time, they break down and feed the beech or birch tree planted on top. Whether buried in the foetal position, or interred as ash, the microbes and nutrients from the departed within feed the new organism.

“Capsula Mundi envisions a different approach to the way we think about death,” explains the site. “A tree, chosen in life by the deceased, will be planted on top of it and serve as a memorial for the departed and as a legacy for posterity and the future of our planet. Cemeteries will acquire a new look and, instead of the cold grey landscape we see today, they will grow into vibrant woodlands.”

‘Natural’ burials are currently illegal in Italy –­ where coffins can only be made out of wood and tin, and must be buried in a protected, controlled and closed area. However, the two designers are currently trying to change this law. They plan to memorialise eco-pods in a ‘natural burial site’, which will eventually become a forest – growing trees, instead of tombstones.

This video breaks down how you do:

Written by

Lisa Goldapple, Editor, Atlas of the Future (05 May 2016)

Project leader

Raoul Bretzel and Anna Citelli

Support the Atlas

We want the Atlas of the Future media platform and our event to be available to everybody, everywhere for free – always. Fancy helping us spread stories of hope and optimism to create a better tomorrow? For those able, we'd be grateful for any donation.

Creative Commons License



  1. Sue

    Is this available in the uk ?

    • Lisa Goldapple, Editor

      Not yet. You want to be a potato?

  2. Guy

    Love the idea but have concerns of what could happen in a wind storm. We’ve all seen downed trees lying down on their sides with their roots fully exposed after a severe storm; I’m imagining a tree like this with its roots intertwined through a partially decomposed giant egg and skeleton inside.

Take me somewhere
Take me somewhere
Data Protection Act: LOPD.
In compliance with Organic Law 15/1999, of 13 of December, on Personal Data Protection, and the development of Rules of Procedure, approved by Royal Decree 1720/2007, of 21 of December, Atlas of the Future subscribers may be required to provide Personal Data, which will be included in a file owned by Democratising The Future Society SL. Such file is duly incorporated in the Spanish Data Protection Agency and protected in compliance with the security measures established in the applicable legislation. Subscribers may exercise, at any time, their rights of access, rectification, cancellation and/or opposition regarding their Personal Data. The subscriber shall notice their will, either under written form addressed to Democratising The Future Society SL, Ref. LOPD, Calabria, 10 6-3 08015 - Barcelona (Spain) and/or by e-mail, clicking here. Also, the subscriber shall communicate Atlas of the Future any modifications of their Personal Data stored, so that the information stored by Atlas of the Future remains at all times updated and error-free.
Get World-changing projects and news in your inbox weekly.