Serene and beautiful photos of the world's first eco-friendly underwater burial ground.

Losing a loved one is hard for a number of reasons.

While the grieving process itself takes a toll, you might also find yourself needing to make several difficult decisions. There are legal issues, people to notify, decisions about the person's property or belongings, and a million choices about funeral arrangements.

If the death is unexpected or isn't thoroughly planned for, those decisions get even harder.


One of those decisions is what to do with your loved one's remains, and believe it or not, there are a lot of options.

Sure, you can go the traditional burial route, and there's always cremation, where you can either keep the ashes around or do something cool like toss them into your grandpa's favorite fishing spot (cue single manly tear).

This is for you, grandpa. You urn'd it. (Sorry just trying to lighten the mood.) Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images.

There are also an increasing number of creative options for paying tribute to your loved ones. You can turn your loved one into a tree or a diamond or even a toaster, and if they were a music lover, you can even have their ashes pressed into a vinyl record. Really.

Another option sits off the coast of Miami in Key Biscayne. It's called the Neptune Memorial Reef, and it's the first underwater graveyard.

It's also the largest human-made reef ever built. Naturally occurring coral reefs exist all over the world, but they can also be made artificially.

A reef is essentially just a complex group of shapes underwater. They're important because they can provide shelter for small fish, protection from storms, surface area for algae and coral to grow on, and they generally help promote diversity within an ecosystem.

To make an artificial reef, you can sink something like an old ship to the bottom of the ocean, where coral and algae can grow on it and create a safe home for dozens of species.

When it comes to burying a loved one at the Neptune Memorial Reef, you can have their ashes spread at the site or purchase a plaque with their name on it to become part of the reef itself.

A memorial plaque at the Neptune reef. Photo by Todd Murray/Flickr.

They also offer various cremation and memorial services.

The reef was carefully designed in order to promote the healthiest ecosystem possible — something anyone who loves the ocean and environment can appreciate.

"Every angle and texture of the Reef was engineered by a marine biologist to attract and support certain marine life to build an ecosystem," their website says, explaining that the vertical structures are home to "corals and coraling algae" while decorative holes were added to the design as a hiding place that "allows prey animals passage while blocking predators."

Appropriately, the Neptune reef was also made to resemble Atlantis — a fictional city that was lost underwater in Greek myths.

What better way to celebrate the life of a loved one than by preserving their memory in a way that helps protect and promote life?

Whether your loved one was an ocean-lover or just someone who loved this planet we all call home, an underwater grave site is a pretty beautiful — and special — resting place.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.