There are now many different types of eco-coffins, shrouds and urns. Most can be obtained via your funeral director, or in some cases directly from the manufacturer, or vendors who sell directly to the public (even via Etsy and eBay).
Everything that goes into the ground at our natural burial grounds must be biodegradable and of a natural material, and so in keeping with our ethos, plastic linings should be replaced with layers of calico or canvas. Veneered chipboard and MDF coffins are not suitable.
A cardboard coffin is a strong, sturdy but lightweight coffin that has been developed to meet the needs of those who prefer an environmentally friendly and biodegradable coffin. Over the last few years, the demand for ‘greener’ and less wasteful funerals has increased dramatically.
There is a variety of cardboard coffins available, they are easily personalised and come in a variety of designs and colours. It is possible to make personalise the coffin with photographs you can email to the manufacturer. You could even decorate it yourself:
- use old birthday or valentines day cards
- write goodbye messages on post-it-notes
- paste on photographs,
- colourful tissue paper, petals,
- write poetry on it
- paints it with the children…
Whatever the family and friends want to do to personalise the coffin.
We recommend the following companies who supply cardboard coffins, who do a wide range of cardboard coffins to choose from.
Sustainable wooden coffins
Coffins made out of sustainably sourced timber are also accepted, especially if finished in beeswax or natural oils and lined with calico.
Milton-Keynes based Feet First Coffins offer hand made, environmentally friendly coffins, lined using 100% non-bleached natural fair-trade cotton with meadow grass hay padding.
John Plumb at Ecological Coffins makes reclaimed wood coffins and Cardboard Coffins in West Wales. www.ecologicalcoffins.co.uk
Wicker and woven coffins
These beautifully crafted coffins are becoming a more popular choice as funerals become less traditional and people more aware of the wide variety of coffins available. Many companies provide them – Somerset Willow for example, grow and weave their own willow and have been making baskets for generations.
The recent popularity of willow coffins has provided an essential source of business for a craft which is otherwise threatened by cheap foreign imports. Other materials that can be used are bamboo, pandanus, seagrass, banana leaf and water hyacinth.
Woollen and cotton coffins
Made in Yorkshire from a combination of sheep wool and organic cotton, over a cardboard frame, hemmed with blanket stitch. Fully biodegradable and offers a soft and gentle alternative to the more traditional materials available.
Bellacouche produces felt shrouds, the most commonly used is the ‘Leafcocoon’. The woollen shroud is strapped to a strong wood-framed base and enfolded in many layers of thick felt giving the cocoon a smooth outline. Upper cover design options based on native trees and the top layer can be removed before burial and kept.
If you’re good at DIY you can make your own. We’ve made some plans to help you get started.
Traditional shaped coffin
Cowboy box shaped coffin
The Acorn Urn is made from recycled paper. It is a subtle, simple and fully biodegradable so the ashes can be buried in it.
Unique handmade urns made of hardened fabric by Beth in Dartmouth, Devon. Beth says “My dog takes me daily into the natural world and while walking I am drawn to and collect natural materials and earth pigments which I incorporate onto the surfaces of some of the urns. The landscapes of my walks inspire textures and images on the urns.”
Natural woven ashes caskets made from willow, seagrass, cane and more are another biodegradable alternative to the traditional or plastic urns. Natural Woven Coffins or Somerset Willow have a wide selection to choose from.
You can also use woollen ashes caskets, which are handmade in Yorkshire, using pure new British wool to high environmental standards. Wool as the outer cover of the urn is both sustainable and biodegradable, and the cremated ashes are contained within a strong cardboard container inside.