When funeral planning today, many people are moving away from traditional heavy, expensive, lead-lined and satin-draped wooden or metal caskets, and searching for something a little less expensive and a little more environmentally friendly. Cremation is on the rise in part because of its lower cost and in part because it's perceived as a greener option than burial. However, for many people, cremation is not an option. Your religion may forbid it, or you may feel strongly about having a final resting place for friends and family to visit. If you're certain that burial is the right way for you to be laid to rest, but you still want an eco-friendly burial, you should take a look at some eco-friendly casket and coffin options that are becoming more available for people like you.
Woolen coffins first began to gain popularity in the U.K., when a marketing student interning for a wool mill discovered a mid-1600s era British law requiring bodies to be buried in woolen shrouds. The original intent of that law was to boost the textiles industry, and it was the same basic desire to boost the wool industry that led the company to begin producing woolen coffins. However, the idea caught on – and spread to other countries, including the U.S. – not because the public has a passion for wool, but because people are searching for greener burial options, and woolen coffins fit the bill.
A typical woolen coffin has a wool exterior and a cotton interior, and has jute handles along the exterior. While the biodegradable woolen coffins, priced between $960 and $1290, are somewhat more expensive than a wooden coffin in the U.K., they're a bargain price in the U.S., where the average wooden coffin is around $2000 and can run as high as $10,000.
If wool isn't green enough for you, then you may want to consider a cardboard coffin. It may sound flimsy, but a cardboard coffin is more than just a large shoebox. These wood-like caskets are made from recycled corrugated cardboard, lined with unbleached cotton, and printed with soy ink.
The cardboard coffins are collapsible and lightweight, so if you wanted to purchase one ahead of time and simply store it until it was needed, you could do so. An important part of end-of-life planning is to make the funeral and burial planning as simple as possible for the person who will be responsible for organizing the burial, and having the coffin already on hand is an efficient way to relieve some of that burden and ensure that your burial will be handled the way that you want it to be handled. Furthermore, these coffins are not only more affordable than the average $2000 coffin – with a price point below $400, they're also cheaper than budget-price wood coffins that start at around $600.
Grass or Leaf Coffins
One final option to consider is coffins made from grasses or leaves. Bamboo is a popular option, both because it's attractive and because it's plentiful. Though often thought of as a tree, bamboo is actually a woody grass, and just like the grass on your lawn, it grows back quickly even after being cut down to the ground. This makes it a very renewable resource, unlike trees that take years to grow to maturity. Another grass that is sometimes used for coffins is seagrass, a hardy and abundant marine plant.
Leaf-based coffins are often made of banana leaves. They can be removed from the plant and woven into a thick rope, which is then coiled around a timber frame. Another option is rattan. Rattan is a type of palm tree with leaves that can be dried and used for building. A rattan coffin has a wicker-like appearance. All grass and leaf coffins are completely biodegradable.
Don't feel restricted to traditional heavy wood or metal coffins. If you want something lighter, greener, or just more unique, there are plenty of options available to you. Ask your local funeral director or visit a company like Elmwood Cemetery Memorials for local resources for eco-friendly coffins and caskets.Share