The idea of planting something that will live and grow long beyond your loss to memorialize your loved one, pet or human, warms the heart with a vision of a blooming tree or shrub or a flower bed that constantly renews itself. And though we carry them with us always in our hearts, sometimes we need a physical place to go to review and cherish our memories of the one who is no longer physically beside us.
And when better to plan such a memorial as the beginning of spring, and also to celebrate Earth Day? Deb Chebatoris of Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation began offering Eternitrees suited to our USDA Planting Zone 6 as part of her huge selection of urns and memorials, and I find them a wonderful idea as memorials to pets as well as an important way to help the planet, one tree at a time. I haven’t had a chance to try this product yet, but I plan to this spring. I didn’t want to wait to write about it, though, for others who also might want to plan a memorial this spring.
EterniTrees are a bio-urn containing a unique mix that aids in the release of beneficial plant nutrients which are found in cremated ashes along with the seeds of your chosen memorial tree. By themselves, ashes from cremains are harmful to plants’ health and well-being, but the EterniTrees components condition your pet’s cremated ashes to cultivate a mixture that nourishes and sustains your memorial tree.
Two cemeterians in Oregon, Nicholas Hammerling and Helen DuBarry and Executive VP of sales and marketing, Governor Jay recognized that “the trend of cremation over traditional burials is hastening and also that green preferences are becoming increasingly important to families.” This is true for our animal companions as well as for the people in our lives, as services like Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation see more families each year, and also see many animal companions from the same household. The company is very sensitive to pets and has included them in its planning as well as humans.
The EterniTrees urn is a biodegradable container strong enough to hold the cremains of a loved one or pet. The top of the urn is a sealed bio chamber that, once buried, absorbs moisture from rain which allows the mixture inside to expand and cover the cremated remains, neutralizing the pH, thus allowing the tree seeds of your choice to grow.
Each urn is designed to hold about one-seventh of a person or a small pet. Often families who cherished a pet for years will share the cremains, and in this way multiple family members will be able to plant their own tree that is specific to their own garden, planting zone or memory.
These trees obviously carry a good bit of emotional weight. Eternitrees provides information on planting zones and on each species of three they offer as well as planting and care instructions so you can make the best choice for your area.
Locally, Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation carriers seven varieties which are well-suited to our planting zone, USDA Zone 6:
- Eastern Redbud
- Deodara Cedar
- Flowering Cherry
- Blue Spruce
- Sugar Maple
- Flowering Dogwood
In addition, Eternitrees offers these species of trees:
- Blue Spruce
- Coral Tree
- Ginko Biloba
- Jacaranda Tree
- Japanese Maple
- Japanese White Birch
- Mexican Fan Palm
- Ponderosa Pine
- Sugar Maple
- Weeping Willow
To ensure they grow, Eternitrees guarantees they are given more than enough growth medium and nutrient compounds as well as seeds to neutralize the ashes’ negative effects while bringing out the positive elements, allowing the tree to be nourished and thrive. In the unlikely event that the tree does not grow or an animal eats the sapling, you may choose to have replacement seeds and growth medium or an actual sapling sent which you can plant on the initial burial site, allowing the nutrients of your loved one to still “become the heart of a tree.”
Why plant trees?
Trees provide so many different benefits to our ecological life it’s hard to know where to start. Aside from being lovely to look at, they provide homes to wildlife, and food sources in their own buds and seeds and bark as well as in the other species of animals, insects and other creatures who call a tree their home. They provide shade from the sun and shelter from the storm to humans as well, very practically reducing the costs of our utilities in all seasons.
In a larger way they help to manage excess runoff from rain and even from snowmelt by both dispersing heavy rain as it falls through the tree’s branches and leaves which helps the rain soak into the soil instead of running off, and by then absorbing enormous quantities of that water into its own roots and holding it. They also absorb carbon dioxide in our air and convert it to oxygen. Here is what I wrote about the benefits of planting for an interpretive sign for a customer and the Liberty Tree Grove:
Benefits of Planting Trees
Trees restore and protect soil.
Trees hold soil in place with their root systems and add nutrients each fall with their leaves.
Trees clean our water and air.
From low level ozone in our cities to pesticide and fertilizer runoff from our farms, trees absorb harmful pollutants, filter and neutralize them. Planting just 30 trees will absorb the amount of carbon dioxide that is generated in the production of energy for the average American lifestyle each year, reducing our carbon footprint.
Trees provide natural flood control.
Land covered with trees retains up to 75% of the rainwater that falls on it, filtering it naturally and releasing it slowly over a period of days, reducing the risk of flooding and the need for municipal drinking water purification.
Trees provide habitat for many species, including endangered species.
From seeds to mature forests to decaying branches in the woods, the entire life cycle of a tree provides habitat and food to every species on earth.
Trees save tax dollars.
Stormwater protection reduces the risk of flooding and the need for storm sewers, natural filtration reduces the need for water purification, and shade helps to cool municipal buildings, lowering electricity bills.
Trees are a beautiful part of our lives.
From striking individual trees that are of historic significance or are simply large and majestic, to a grove of trees in a city park, trees enrich our lives by simply being there.
As you are planning your spring gardening activities, include a living memorial that will always help you remember your pet as well as help the planet in the way that only trees can.
Browse some rescued cats and kittens!
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