Gerard Moliné of Bios Urn® tells us about how to plant an urn in one’s home.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Gerard Moliné: Our families are good, thank you for asking. We wish the same for you.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Bios Urn®.
Gerard Moliné: My name is Gerard. I am a designer, and I live in Spain. My design studio has worked for over 15 years in the creation, development, and management of ideas, products, and experiences. The common thread of all of our work is observing the dialogue between people and the environment.
One of the most beautiful creations is the Bios Urn®. It was the world’s first biodegradable urn in the marketplace and also the only one which introduced the idea of planting a tree with the remains obtained after cremation.
The idea actually came to me when I was a young child. I was in the garden planting flowers and vegetables with my grandmother when she discovered a dead bird. She instinctively took the bird, buried it in a hole, and planted some wildflower seeds on top – thus giving it new life. I carried this memory with me for many years. When I was older, and after I had graduated from University, I looked into it a bit more. I couldn’t believe that something so simple and so natural didn’t exist anywhere in the world! So, in 1997 I decided to create the first prototypes for the Bios Urn®, which later went to market in 2001.
In 2013, I launched an internet startup company to market the Bios Urn® online, and more importantly, worldwide, with the aim of changing the way in which people face the end of their life in a very traditional and conservative sector. While the design has changed over the past decade, the core focus of Bios Urn® has remained the same: to add meaning to this process of life and return to nature.
It is composed of 100% recycled materials which are locally sourced. It is also produced ethically and locally.
Since its creation, the Bios Urn® has reached customers in 47 countries in 5 continents.
How does Bios Urn® innovate?
Gerard Moliné: Bios Urn was the original idea and product. We have since gone on to create:
– Bios Urn Pets®, the biodegradable urn designed to turn your pet into a tree in the afterlife.
– The Bios Incube®, a planter that is designed to fit all of our urns perfectly and plant them close to you. It is perfect for those who lack a natural space to plant their Bios Urn®, who live in temporary locations, or who just prefer to have an indoor tree.
– Bios Parks®. Open green spaces to commemorate and remember our loved ones in a natural environment and in harmony with nature. Forests instead of cemeteries, that’s the idea. The first one is open in Canada.
What is clear is that the structure of burial and funerals no longer serve individuals or the environment, and the only way to move forward is through the innovation of more natural burial options.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Gerard Moliné: The pandemic was unexpected for us all. As a team, we all have been working remotely. The global shipping delays affected some of our deliveries, but overall we have managed to keep things running as smoothly as possible. We are keeping strong and doing everything we can to get our urns delivered to people as quickly as possible as they are often purchased at extremely difficult times in people’s lives.
As for our customers, the pandemic has completely changed the way people are having to say goodby to their loved ones. During the coronavirus lockdown, restrictions on travel and social distancing mean that for many mourners, there was no opportunity to come together to offer sympathy or to be there at the committal, and this is causing immeasurable heartbreak on top of the grief from the bereavement. The lack of a traditional final farewell – whatever form that may take – makes it harder for grieving friends and family to feel a sense of closure. What we have seen many families doing is choosing to delay the planting and wait until they can have more family and friends present. They are keeping the ashes with them in the meantime. This gives families more time than usual to think about what they want their farewell ritual to be like.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Gerard Moliné: Fortunately, we did not have to make any big difficult choices. What this pandemic has really brought home to us is just how much the funeral industry needs to evolve urgently. We were seeing images of rows and rows of coffins in the media waiting to be cremated or buried because we were not prepared for such a situation. Things were being dealt with as quickly as possible, but definitely not as sustainably as possible. This isn’t how things should be in the 21st century. We are making such huge progress on living more sustainably, Why are we taking the same steps to die more sustainably?
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Gerard Moliné: Nothing specific to answer here.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Gerard Moliné: Over the years, many others have tried to copy our ideas. However, we have come to realize that copying differs from inspiration. And that’s why we will never copy another idea, we just want to keep on working hard to provide you with improved, original, and innovative ideas. We will always strive to be pioneers in the market so that every single person can have access to economical, eco-friendly, and sustainable burial alternatives to approach this inevitable phase of human life.
Your final thoughts?
Gerard Moliné: The truth is many of us don’t want to think about our afterlife plans, and there’s a huge taboo around dying. We really hope to help change that. Thanks to the Bios Urn®, graveyards can turn into forests filled with life and meaning, and the end of our lives would become an act of reconciliation with nature itself.
This idea originally emerged from understanding the funeral process in a broader and more sustainable way, and I just want to keep on creating smart, sustainable, and eco-friendly solutions to approach an inevitable phase of human life. The ultimate dream is to convert cemeteries around the world into forests.
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