Eco-friendly coffins – what would you choose?
There are so many decisions to make when planning a funeral. Burial or cremation? Environmentally friendly or traditional? No-fuss or full-on celebration? Which coffin to choose?
As we only use eco-friendly coffins at our natural burial grounds, we thought it might be helpful to share the eco-friendly coffins that are available to help with this decision.
In the UK a large number of burials and cremations use chipboard coffins. These contain toxic chemicals like resin and formaldehyde. A veneer is then attached with glue to make the coffin look nice. The problem is these release toxic particles and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere during cremation. This contributes to air pollution and climate change. When used for burial they also leach harmful toxins into the earth, affecting the surrounding ecosystems.
This does not need to be the case. Switching to natural materials would significantly reduce these problems.
There are so many wonderful, eco-friendly coffins that are affordable and naturally beautiful. Often they use less energy to burn which reduces co2. They are also biodegradable and do not leach harmful toxins into the earth. Here are some of the eco friendly choices that you may want to consider when planning a funeral.
Wool Coffins are a softer, eco friendly option. Based in the UK Natural Legacy use British wool which is not only sustainable but also supports farming. A Wool Coffin was one of the option’s considered for the Duke of Edinburgh recently as a way to include an eco-friendly touch to the funeral. Not only are these coffins beautiful but they also have a cosy look to them.
One of the most popular choices for natural burials are woven coffins. A few examples include willow, bamboo, or banana. Some of these can be grown in the UK, providing a sustainable and carbon-friendly choice. Often you can have colours woven in which can make these more personal. Many wonderful companies offer different styles of woven coffins, you can find some of these here.
Wyldwood Willow also offer workshops where you can build your own willow coffin. This can make the experience very personal and therapeutic.
The photo of this beautiful woven coffin was taken at Usk Castle Chase Natural Burial Meadow.
Wood coffins can be very rustic in appearance or have a more traditional look. They can be made from sustainable wood or reclaimed wood. They can also be very affordable. There are many UK based companies that provide natural wood coffins a few of which you can find here.
Those who are DIY minded can even build their own wood coffin. We have few basic DIY coffin plans on our website.
It’s important when choosing an eco-friendly wood coffin that it is natural wood, not MDF or chipboard. Any fittings also need to be natural e.g rope handles, rather than plastic.
This beautiful reclaimed wood coffin was handmade in west wales by Ecological Coffins. Not only is it perfect for natural burial it is also suitable for cremation.
Woollen shrouds are another eco-friendly option for a natural burial. Bellacouche creates beautiful soft coffins and shrouds which can be simple or intricate. Below is an example of one of their beautiful leaf cocoons. Made in the UK these offer a natural, eco-friendly, sustainable option.
Cardboard coffins are a low cost, eco-friendly alternative. You can find a list of a few suppliers here but they are made by many excellent companies within the UK.
Cardboard coffins are a fantastic choice if you want something you can personalise. They can be painted but you can also use photos or letters to decorate the coffin.
For those who do not wish to have a coffin at all, there is the option of a simple natural shroud with a wood board. For a natural burial, any natural material (e.g. cotton or wool) is acceptable as long as it is biodegradable. This photo taken at Aylesbury Vale Natural Burial Meadow shows what a shroud can look like. This photo was taken during a workshop at the meadow, with the assistance of a very helpful volunteer.
The ‘living coffin’, grown from mushroom mycelium is a very new concept. The Loop Living Cocoon was used for the first time very recently in the Netherlands. It does not appear to be available in the UK yet, but, it may be something to look out for in the future. It’s another wonderful idea that shows how coffins are evolving to work with nature and give more choice.
If you have another type of eco coffin that we have not mentioned please get in touch and we can add it to this blog. We also have a list of eco coffin suppliers within the UK. Please get in touch if you would like to be added to our list.