A bold, carbon negative alternative to caskets and cremation. That’s how they put it at Transcend, a “green burial company” that’s planting people (and pets) as trees when they die. It’s a means to reforesting the world, says Matthew Kochmann, founder and CEO in Brooklyn, New York.
The startup launched earlier this month and is signing up people for $100 founding memberships. For that, you lock in a discounted total price of $8,500 at zero interest for 35 years and your choice of tree species and placement. Transcend also will plant 100 trees with partner One Tree Planted and 1,000 more when your time comes.
Oh, and you get 20% off a tree burial kit for pets and a T-shirt.
Kochmann says Transcend wants people to be inspired by the idea of helping heal the planet rather than fearful of death.
The company is young and still setting up burial areas with conservation easements in multiple undisclosed states.
But Transcend has reportedly raised $2 million to date from investors including Refactor Capital, Vast Ventures, Josh Kushner from Thrive Capital, Arielle Zuckerberg from Long Journey Ventures and Beth Turner from SV Angel.
Kochmann was employee No. 7 at Uber and has a landscape architecture degree from Cornell University, a track record of success as a serial entrepreneur and experience as a land developer, according to a bio.
The first physical site for burial plots, or “groves,” is due to open up next year.
The $100 founding memberships, Kochmann explains, are for people to raise their hand and say “I love this concept. Of course I want to be a tree when I die and I want to support this future tree movement.”
The goal is to have 10 million groves by the end of the decade, planting 10 billion trees. That would help combat climate change. Scientists say planting 1.2 trillion trees could cancel out a decade of carbon dioxide emissions.
“We’re in the process of constantly raising more money to fund our growth and the expansion and the launching of these sites,” Kochmann says.
Our bodies are filled with hyper-rich nutrients that go to waste when cremated or buried in a casket, Transcend says. Tree burial repurposes the body by returning it to the earth to feed and nourish forests.
The body is buried in organic biodegradable flax linen along with a unique blend of fungi-enriched soil.
“With a young tree planted above it, mushrooms work their magic to ensure a direct connection between the nutrient-rich body and the tree’s root system so that the body can literally become the tree,” the company says.
Family and friends can later gather in a spot that can be revisited for lifetimes, since the site is protected against future development by a conservation easement.
The whole process is about half the cost of a traditional burial, Transcend says. Each year in the United States, those traditional burials contribute 20 million feet of wood, 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluids, 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete, 17,000 tons of copper and bronze, and 64,500 tons of steel to the ground, according to the Green Burial Council.
The tree you become helps sequester about six times more carbon dioxide than a cremation emits, Kochmann adds.
Not enough people talk about or prepare for death, and families scramble to make arrangements when the time comes, the CEO says.
Signing up for a tree burial allows people to make a meaningful choice while they’re still here. He sees the movement as “rewilding and reforesting the world through death and finding a proactive climate change solution that people can engage with today.”
His company’s immediate plans involve securing the grove sites.
Places where human remains are buried are regulated on a state-by-state basis. “Essentially, in order to make this concept a reality, we need to understand land use, zoning regulations and navigate all of this to identify the places where we can do this correctly.”
Kochmann declined to say how many people have signed up for founding memberships since the launch earlier this month. But he says land is being selected that is primed and ready for “good forms of reforestation” within two hours of metro areas. That includes defunct agricultural land, deforested land and existing forests that aren’t densely populated. Matt Hill, CEO of One Tree Planted, is a member of Transcend’s advisory board.
Reservations for groves, or tree burial plots at physical sites, will be opening up some time next year. Full reservations won’t be taken until final sites are secured, Kochmann says.
“This isn’t about one site. This is about a larger concept and building a network of sites.”
Transcend has plans for about 100 sites through the United States.
“This is not a widget,” the CEO says. “This is not an app. This is not a fly-by-night tech startup …
“Before we launch any site, we have to set it up very ,very specifically to make sure that even if our company does fold that land and people buried are still perpetually protected in conservation easements and that a maintenance endowment has been locked in …
“The second we take one body and put it in the ground, it’s protected in perpetuity.”
The idea that polluters should pay reparations for climate change is gaining steam among advocates. Some environmentalists and academics argue the com
The environment watchdog prosecuted just four water companies for breaching an overflow permit between 2018 and 2022 despite hundreds of thousands of sew
As technology evolves, data security becomes more complex and challenging for companies. SOC 2 compliance is important to demonstrate that your company has the
Artificial intelligence companies are riding a hyper-accelerated growth curv