Ethical Coffins and Shrouds
In accordance with our environmental and social ethics, we accept only biodegradable and environmentally-friendly coffins and shrouds at Sun Rising. A growing selection of such coffins are now available through us or any good funeral director.
Ethical coffins include those made of wicker (willow), bamboo, pineapple weed and other tropical grasses, recycled newspaper, cardboard, and solid softwood. All should be made without the use of unnecessary bolts, screws, toxic glues and varnishes. They can be colourful or natural, decorated, covered in cloth or flowers, or absolutely simple.
All chipboard and most MDF coffins with wood veneers contain the toxic chemical formaldehyde, and are not acceptable for burial at Sun Rising. This is not only because we don't wish to inter the chemicals in the nature reserve, but - even more crucially - because we believe the companies that manufacture these boards are seldom socially or environmentally ethical.
For religious or other reasons, we are happy for someone to be interred in the beautiful simplicity of a handmade shroud of natural cloth, or indeed one of the beautifully crafted shrouds now available to buy.
Companies listed here are in alphabetical order. They are just a selection of what is available. A good funeral director will be able to find these for you. Some of these companies do not sell to the public. All will provide infant, baby and child sized coffins.
Woven Coffins - Willow, Bamboo and Other Grasses
Willow Workshop is based in Leamington Spa. Avril is an accomplished basket maker now making a small number of willow coffins in a beautiful rustic design, specifically for local natural burial grounds such as Sun Rising. She has been involved with Sun Rising through the design process. The willow is sourced locally, and every other aspect has been thoroughly considered to ensure the coffins are as ethical and environmentally-sound as they can be. The photograph above shows one of these coffins, taken on the grassland at Sun Rising.
Other willow coffins we are happy to sell are :
Ecoffins are one of the older companies selling willow, bamboo and wild pineapple coffins. They also sell pine and pine/bamboo combinations. These are all imported, but using ethical transport. They only deal with co-operatives and certified fair-trade. Note: their English willow coffins use imported willow.
Gadsby & Son Coffins are an old basketmaking company dating back to the nineteenth century, based in Somerset, offering some very beautiful coffins. The website has limited public access as, like most coffin manufacturers, they only sell to trade. There are a few photos here, nonetheless.
Musgrove Willow Coffins are another family firm, dating back to the 1920s making handmade English willow products.
Natural Woven Coffins import coffins from overseas made of various materials. Some of these we would be happy support, such as those made of banana leaves. We are less confident of the environmental ethos of some other materials.
Somerset Willow is an old family firm making high quality English willow coffins. They are some of the most beautiful coffins on the market, offering the possibility of bands of softly coloured willow to add an extra touch of character.
Sussex Willow Coffins specialise in natural burial coffins. Made using English willow and other sustainably sourced native timber their coffins are free of glue, boards and toxic substances. Crafted by a traditional willow basket maker in Sussex, all aspects of sourcing and design are carefully considered to make beautiful and ecologically sound coffins.
Tributes are a relatively recent company based in Sussex that produces willow coffins. Like Ecoffins, they import their products, but they attempt to maximise shipping efficiency. The coffins are produced by local villages and farms.
Feet First Coffins is a Milton Keynes firm hand-making solid wood coffins in the traditional way, all their wood coming from sustainable forestry sources or reclaimed timber.
Honest Coffins is where Gloucestershire-based carpenter John is making beautiful solid wood coffins, using ethically and sustainablly sourced Scottish wood. They are unvarnished, with no nails or screws, with bark trims and rope handles.
Card and Papier Maché
Ecopod make a range of extraordinary coffins made of papier maché which are well worth exploring. They are more expensive, but utterly unique. Their cremated remains urn in the shape of an acorn is very affordable and popular. PLEASE NOTE : Ecopods are currently not available, but hope to be back in business soon. Please ask if you are interested.
Greenfield Creations is an environmentally friendly company that makes very strong cardboard coffins which can be decorated to order with any chosen design or left very simple. The glues used in the coffin manufacture are water-based and non-toxic.
Bellacouche create the most beautiful felt shrouds with an integral wooden base. A soft and embracing alternative to a coffin, they are environmentally sound. The thickness of the felt means that the body shape is not visible. As a handmade, hand-decorated and beautifully crafted shroud, the cost is at the higher end.
Respect Shrouds are made of bamboo fibre, and tend to use a bamboo base. The shroud is tied around the body, allowing the shape to more visible. The cost is a little less than a simple cardboard coffin. Have a look at the link for an idea of what this may look and feel like.
Cotton shrouds : FOR TOTAL SIMPLICITY AND ECONOMY it is always possible to be buried in a simple cotton shroud, or even cotton sheets, using a bamboo or willow base. (See this testimonial.) Please ask for further information if you are interested.