The Optimist Citizen

An organisation whose innovation can help you ‘Live’ even after Death


ITALY : In today’s world, the notion of living green has established a fledgling yet a strong presence. The presence has gathered a strong communal conscience in saving the planet by wearing, eating and thinking green. But, every possible intervention that sketches out a greener future can happen if and only if the human mind is healthy and alive. What happens to one’s organic legacy after their DEATH? Anna Citelli and Raoul Bretzel, 2 designers hailing from Italy, were incessantly wondering on the same question.

“At a design convention in 2001, we witnessed numerous reflections on how a designed product could define the quality of life. But, we wanted to overcome the idea of designing objects to define the quality of life and instead wondered about the legacy that the objects we design, leave after us”, says Raoul. Inspired by these reflections, they chose to work on an object which even after its importance has skimmed past most of the design world – A coffin. They thought that this vehicle of transcendence from one world to other can be the perfect culmination of one’s circle of life in the most environment friendly way possible.Thus, this thought and the professional expertise of the designers met mid-way and gave birth to CAPSULA MUNDI, an initiative for green burial. Under this, they designed an egg-shaped coffin called CAPSULA, made out of biodegradable plastic, in which the corpse is placed in the fetal position.

The Capsula is then planted into the ground like a seed. Above it, a tree, chosen by the deceased while still alive, is planted and it grows, signaling the presence of occupied space. The slow mineralization of the egg along with the slow naturalization of the tree, will part take in the infinite biological cycle of LIFE. The traditional coffin has a short life cycle and a strong environmental impact. To make a coffin, a tree must be cut down. A tree takes between 10 and 40 years to reach maturity and the coffin is of used just for three days. The material of the Capsula is a bio-polymer which is a polymer derived from seasonal plants. It is completely biodegradable and, if buried, becomes decomposed by microorganisms in the ground and allows the organic matter to transform into minerals. Currently, the Capsulas are in a small size, being designed for burial of ashes. But, soon the firm will start manufacturing Capsulas for the body. But, the work of Capsula Mundi has not been free of criticism and contempt.

The biggest problem in making this concept public was the tampering with the rituals associated with death are considered as a taboo in many cultures. As a result, they also had to face censorship from a few authorities. “But we have always received a positive feedback from people. Many supporters wrote petitions to the government, expressing their support for a GREEN BURIAL. In France, for example, some people launched a petition to the attention of the minister Bernard Cazeneuve to promote green burial in their country”, says a hopeful Raoul. And it is this support that gives the founders a push towards their goal. “Our mission is to change the perception of death, trying to make it feel as more positive, so that one can make an impact even after he/she dies”, says Raoul. And indeed, it is these small, individual steps that create our true legacy and helps us in giving life to Mother Earth even after we die.

Nikita Motwani | TOC

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