Coffin alternatives

Coffins are now available in a raft of different materials. Alongside wood, there is a wide range of wool, felt, cardboard, bamboo and, (our favourite) willow to choose from. Many of these are suitable for cremation and burial – just make sure that the coffin has been approved by the F.F.M.A.

eco friendly coffins for cremation
Our coffins have been approved by the F.F.M.A.

Now, you may already be well aware that a coffin or casket doesn’t have to be made from wood. But what if you didn’t wish to be buried or cremated in a coffin or casket? What choices do you have?

Coffin alternatives for burial & cremation

Currently, there is nothing in UK law that states a coffin or casket must be used. Yes, the body should be covered in public, but how is up to the person or people responsible for laying the body to rest. There are several different options available.

Coffin alternatives
Our willow stretcher is available with a cover sheet

Direct cremations

A traditional funeral can be expensive, however there are ways to cut costs. Direct cremations are certainly gaining in popularity in the UK. (It was widely reported that David Bowie’s direct cremation led to a significant rise in 2016.)

According to a recent report by SunLife, 14% of all UK funerals in 2020 were direct cremations. While the COVID pandemic undoubtedly distorted the data, this is still a remarkable increase on the 2019 figure of 3%. The reason for this upsurge has a great deal to do with the cost of a traditional funeral.

As reported, in 2020 over a third of people did not leave a provision for their funeral and of those that did, over a third did not leave enough to cover the costs entirely. Subsequently, many had to take out a loan or put the cost of a loved one’s funeral on a credit card. That’s yet more stress at an incredibly distressing time.

What is a direct cremation?

A direct cremation involves a simple cremation without a funeral service. Usually, there aren’t any family members present. The ashes are then handed back to the family or scattered in the crematorium’s garden. It allows loved ones to say their goodbyes in an environment and at a time of their choosing. This could be at a separate memorial service or at a special event.

It isn’t necessary to use a coffin or casket in a direct cremation. A ‘stretcher’ and shroud are a cost-effective alternative. There are a great many stretchers in the market to choose from and, as with coffins. the quality can vary enormously.

Coffin alternatives – Eco-friendly willow stretchers

Our willow stretchers are an incredibly eco-friendly choice. Each one is made with willow grown on our Somerset farm and woven by one of our highly skilled weavers. The stretcher is lined with calico by our seamstress (who also makes shrouds in the same fabric). The willow stretchers are beautiful and the load bearing handles make transportation easy.

Coffin alternatives

A stretcher is around half the size of a coffin, so it contains less raw material and is far quicker to make. Subsequently a willow stretcher costs less than a willow coffin. In a direct cremation, a stretcher is a very good alternative to a coffin

Plan ahead

Planning for death and the way in which we would like to be buried or cremated isn’t an easy conversation to have with family and friends, but perhaps we all should. By making loved one’s aware of our funeral wishes a lot of soul-searching and financial heartache could be avoided. There are lots of options available. Who is to say that simple isn’t best?