Now you can spend eternity protecting trees.

By Meghan Overdeep
June 17, 2019
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Sandy Gibson has a lofty goal.

A chief executive of Better Place Forests is creating a better graveyard, one tree at a time.

The California start-up wants to replace cemeteries with forests, beginning with some that are in danger right now.

Better Place Forests provides a natural alternative to the traditional burial. Instead of the plot and headstone approach, the company will mix your loved one's ashes with fertilizer and spread them beneath the tree of their choosing. A steward then installs a small round plaque in the earth like a gravestone. Conservation easements ensure that the land won't ever be developed.

"Cemeteries are really expensive and really terrible, and basically I just knew there had to be something better," Gibson told The New York Times. "We're trying to redesign the entire end-of-life experience."

"You're part of this forest, but you're also part of creating this forest," Gibson continued. "People love that."

Right now, there are only two forests available, in Santa Cruz and Point Arena, California, but the company is working on expanding.

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A Better Place burial currently costs between $3,000 (for the base of a young or less desirable tree) and upwards of $30,000 (for placement by an ancient redwood). There is also an entry-level price of $970 to spend an eternity with strangers at a community tree.

And, because the forest is not a cemetery, rules are much looser, which means pets are allowed. It's not uncommon for customers want their ashes to be mixed with their pets' ashes.

"Pets are a huge thing," Gibson told the Times. "It's where everyone in your family can be spread. This is your tree."