Better Place Forests sells the rights to scatter your ashes under a redwood. Prices start at $2,900, but can soar to $36,000.
Sandy Gibson hates cemeteries.
The serial entrepreneur, who lost both his parents at a young age, had been making regular trips to visit his family grave, which was located at the edge of a cemetery next to a busy road. His family had chosen a beautiful polished granite tombstone, which had seemed like a good idea at the time. But that means that every time he pays homage to his parents, Gibson sees the reflection of cars rushing down the street on the slick surface of the gravestone. “I knew it didn’t feel like the right place for them,” he says.
Gibson knew he couldn’t be alone. The end-of-life experience for a family is a dreadful one. Not only have they lost someone they love, but cemeteries are expensive (and are running out of space). A 2017 study from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals the cost of dying—$7,360 on average for funeral services and burial—has risen 227% since 1986 (compared to 123% for all goods). Today’s $14 billion death industry is catering to an increasing secular country: A 2017 survey by the National Funeral Directors Association found that only 39.5% of respondents are being buried in ceremonies with a religious component, and more than half of respondents are interested in green burial options. Cremation is on the rise.
What do you do if you don’t want to bury your loved one in a cemetery, you don’t have a religious community to turn to for support, and cremation doesn’t feel like a special enough way to mark their passing? Some have turned to human composting, while others request to be buried inside a biodegradable pod. The still living are turning to “death doulas” to make the process of dying more positive.
And now, thanks to Gibson, you can buy the rights to sprinkle your ashes underneath a redwood tree.
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