What is beyond the grave? Will Brown does not profess to be wiser than the rest of us, but his burial company promises one thing about death: that it will generate new life.
The concept is simple. People invest in their own one-acre burial plot through the fledgling Back to nature company, which uses the money to plant more than 500 native trees in it.
Hopefully, it will be many years before parcel buyers have to rest. By then your site will host a native forest that will continue to flourish long after your death, linking with neighboring patches to form a forest.
“I’m a big believer in long-term thinking,” Brown said. “I think the only way out of this mess [the climate and biodiversity crises] it’s if we start to integrate long-term thinking into our daily actions. “
In this case, the long-term is 200 years after your death, which is the time scale that Brown encourages potential clients to think about.
However, Return to Nature is not just about restoring broken landscapes. Brown also wants to support grieving people, making sure their loved ones leave a positive legacy.
“Losing someone can be a terrible experience,” he said. “We will never get it right, but we can make it potentially less bad.”
There wasn’t a eureka moment behind Return to Nature, but Brown believes the seeds of his idea may have been sown at a funeral he attended a few years ago.
“It was in this bleak, drafty church,” he recalled. “It didn’t quite fit her personality, she was very outgoing and optimistic. It was jarring. “
Later work at an innovation agency, which put Brown in touch with social entrepreneurs who were shaking up serious industries, inspired him to “think disruptively.”
However, it wasn’t until he walked through a degraded Scottish landscape in 2018 that ideas came together in Brown’s mind.
There is something special about being able to say ‘that forest is here thanks to that person’
The startup has yet to officially launch, but Brown expects it to do so this year, depending on Covid. He said the number of people who have registered an interest in reconstructing burials has been “beyond expectations” but declined to give a precise figure.
The location of the burial plots has yet to be confirmed, but Brown is in talks with landowners across Scotland. Their aim is to collectively finance the purchase of the land, and the plots will cost around £ 2,500 each, “a little more expensive than a burial in the woods.”
Rewilding, Believes Brown, is a good legacy to leave. “There is something special about being able to say ‘that forest is here thanks to that person,’” he said.
Lead Image: Mike Cassidy