December 30, 2016

Till death (and after) do us be Green!

My mother was adamant that she wanted to be buried in a cardboard box, but alas, the funeral home trotted out the hideous chipboard veneered with shiny wood and my Dad fell for it.  I think it is very important to talk about the issue of funerals and burial and keep it green.

When arranging a funeral for a close relative or friend, or just making your own funeral plans for the future, a traditional shiny veneer or solid wood lined with satin coffin is generally incompatible with environmental ethics especially if they have always fought for ‘green power’.

A Cardboard Coffin may be the ideal solution and can be bought for use in Australian cemeteries by arrangement. Green burials, environmentally friendly funerals, or for an alternative funeral where an individual request may include a painted coffin can be arranged but do check with your funeral director.  There are also chipboard or MDF coffins but of course, the glues used in this have to be weighed against the benefits of having been made from what is fundamentally, leftovers of the timber/wood pulp industry.

In the UK, some are made from extra thick ‘Toughwall’ double thickness corrugated board with an additional internal lining for support along the base to provide all the practical requirements needed from a coffin. Each coffin is provided with 3 die cut handles on each side and 1 at each end and can be used for a traditional funeral or a simple nature funeral where an eco burial is part of the funeral plan.  These  have a nameplate at the end as cemeteries and crematoria in England will not accept nameless coffins.  It may be the same in Australia.

The Cardboard coffin can be purchased and received either though the post, collected or delivered. Inside there is a fitted cardboard pillow and it is lined with a waterproof film as bodies can leak on the day.   Gruesome thought, but you need to be practical and respectful to all, the departed and the bereaved.  Some people may feel that it is inappropriate for an environmentally friendly coffin to contain such a material as this plastic liner and may want to remove it but it is important to replace it with some other kind of absorbent material if removed. (Materials like saw dust and shredded paper are not permitted at any crematorium.)

By far the prettiest coffins I have ever seen are also from the U.K. but I am sure you could import them or have them made under licence in any country.  Just remember the carbon implications of importing. And be respectful to the designers of these coffins which are surely copyright.

The Green Funeral Company’s designs are made in woven bamboo or willow, through to cardboard coffins as well as more traditional coffins.

Designs of coffins, and the materials used to make them are diverse and innovative, from gold leaf pods filled with white feathers to beautiful biodegradable urns. The company also sells coffins independently of their funeral services.  But it would be an excellent product to have made locally, say from vine prunings from the wine industry.  This would be the ultimate green coffin and you could feature the vines for any wine buff.  Sounds like a great idea!

Coffins do not have to be mega-expensive.  I love the idea of the family painting the coffin of their loved ones. I have heard also of people creating their own coffins and storing it. But then …you have a coffin in your house.  Perhaps it would be better to have it built in as your home furniture and re-use it when you die.

A shroud, ultimately, seems so much more sensible!

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Comments

  1. Willow coffins are by far the ultimate in environmental recycling . Willow is grown in rows of bushes, and once harvested can generate back to the same height within a single year. Willow has been known to grow up to 3 meters annually and has the ability to degrade much more quickly than conventional hardwoods making it an ideal eco material.