When Gerard and Roger Moliné's grandmother picked up a dead bird while working in a garden, the brothers had no idea the simple gesture would evolve into a death-care business years later.
In an act of love and respect for nature, their grandmother tucked the bird into the soil with seeds for the vegetable garden young Gerard was helping her with. Decades later, the brothers have their own company, Bios Urn, that helps families turn their loved ones' ashes into trees.
"What we try to explain is that rather than keeping remains of people who passed away in an object without life in some way, we can do something else," Roger Moliné told AccuWeather. "We can announce new life."
Started in 2013, the company's mission has been to educate people that ashes can be used to create a new form of life rather than sit in a box or casket. More than 60,000 units have been sold.
In the Bios Urn, the ashes stay separate from the tree for the first month of growth. The top capsule has two components that promote growth of the tree. The urn will eventually decompose and the tree will grow through the ashes.
Any tree can be used, Moliné said. They recommend using something that is native to the area to ensure that the tree will be healthy.
In the death-care industry, Bios Urn has faced numerous critics, Moliné said.
"We just think our product is honest, is democratic; it goes along with other values of a modern society instead of a society from 50 or 60 years ago," Moliné said.
Instead of a casket that can cost thousands of dollars, Bios Urn is sold for $145. It was important to make the product affordable, Moliné said, as many death-care services can be expensive.
Instead, the brothers wanted to create a personal way of staying connected with a deceased loved one that also promoted environmentally conscious actions.
"Death is just maybe a change in life; it's just something that is natural, that it needs to happen, and that it has a meaning," he said.
Moliné, 24, finished graduate school in 2013 and teamed up with his brother, Gerard, 39, to take their idea into a full-fledged company. Based out of Barcelona, they took Gerard's experience as a product designer to see if anyone would buy an urn off the internet.
When the orders started coming in, they realized they had caught on to something.
After successful crowdfunding campaigns and thousands of orders, the company has multiple products, including the Bios Incube.
In the incubator, the tree can grow but can still be moved.
"It lets people experience that growth process," he said. "You have the urn and the tree at home."
Their idea to "turn cemeteries into forests" is not always well-received, Moliné said. While they find cemeteries to be an outdated method of burial, especially in crowded metropolitan areas, Moliné stressed that it is up to an individual how they want to be preserved.
The brothers just hope to offer people an alternative choice. And when the time comes for Moliné, he'll be one of those trees; he's just not sure what kind yet.
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