The rise of the eco-friendly coffin

It appears that the rise in demand for an eco-friendly coffin is more than just a passing fad. Our willow coffin workshops have never been busier. Even prior to the COVID pandemic, sales of our coffins were on the rise. Now that the worst of the pandemic appears to have passed in the UK, (thank goodness) demand for our willow coffins shows no sign of abating.

eco friendly coffin
One of our weavers at work

Willow or wicker coffins are no longer viewed as ‘unusual’ or ‘alternative’. It seems that more people are interested in an eco-friendly coffin and/or a green funeral. These ideas are certainly gaining traction in the media.

Our eco-friendly coffins are newsworthy

A journalist recently contacted us as she was writing a piece for SAIF’s (The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors) Insight magazine on green funerals. This piece wasn’t a one-off. It was to form part of a series on the steps the funeral sector is taking to mitigate against climate change.

This is important. There has been a great deal of coverage concerning the effects industries such as oil, gas and fashion have on the planet. Why not consider the benefits of a green funeral and shine the light on an eco friendly coffin choice? After all, we are all going to have to consider our own mortality at some stage.

CNN gets in touch

Following the interview with Insight magazine (and purely by coincidence), a representative of CNN got in touch. They were interested in filming a piece on woodland/sustainable burials for an episode of their Call to Earth series. This series has been running a while. It reports on the environmental challenges facing the planet, together with the solutions. The latter is crucial. It’s all too easy to get upset by the damage humans are doing to the planet. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that a great many people are doing incredible work to improve the environment while they are alive. An eco friendly burial or cremation allows you to help the planet at your time of death.

CNN had already featured the plight of certain wildlife, the state of the oceans and the effect of certain food choices in a wide range of very well made pieces. It was interesting that this prestigious worldwide news channel now chose to focus on death and the funeral choices that people were making. Woodland burials formed a key part of the episode as did our willow farm and coffin weavers.

eco friendly coffin
CNN filming some of our coffin weavers

The episode was broadcast on CNN 3 times in one day, so goodness knows how many viewers watched it! On their Twitter feed CNN stated that, “There is a growing awareness of the environmental cost of burying our dead.” The episode has (at the time of writing) been viewed over 166,000 times on Twitter. Twitter is renowned for the ‘lively discussion’ it can create and this episode has certainly got people talking. Over the coming weeks it will be promoted across other CNN digital media channels. Hopefully, this can only help to reinforce the benefits of choosing an eco-friendly coffin.

Make sure the coffin is completely biodegradable

If your desire is to be laid to rest in a woodland or other green burial site, then your choice of coffin is going to be crucial. The coffin is going to have to be made from items that biodegrade. So, forget about brass handles and a metal name plate. The interior will also need to be plastic free. (Our willow coffins are fitted with an absorbent sheet made from corn starch. The handles can be made from willow or rope and the nameplates are sustainable oak. Crucially, our coffins have been tested by the F.F.M.A.)

eco friendly coffin
A Block Colour coffin with toggles & oak name plaque

If you are considering a green burial then the good news is there are more green burial sites in the UK than ever before. However, this marketplace is largely unregulated, so it is always worth paying a visit to a site before making a commitment. The Natural Death Centre is a good starting point for ideas and information.

Choose the right willow coffin

While our coffins are made on our Somerset willow farm, there are plenty of other suppliers that either import the willow from far afield before weaving or simply import the completed coffin from overseas. Neither option is good for the planet. And neither makes for an eco-friendly coffin.

eco friendly coffin
One of our weavers made this willow boat coffin with rope handles and willow fish

Our highly skilled weavers are well paid (weaving apprenticeships are ongoing) and the working conditions are excellent. (There’s no getting away from the fact that willow weaving is hard work!)

Willow is grown in the vast majority of our 200 acres of fields and sorted by hand. Many of the processes are little changed from when the Musgrove business first came into existence nearly a century ago.

The end result? An eco-friendly coffin ‘grown’ and woven in Somerset. For all our sakes, let’s hope more people make eco-friendly choices.   

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