Biodegradable willow coffins

When it comes to choosing a biodegradable coffin, willow makes a great choice. That being said, if you plan to be as kind to the planet as possible with your choice of coffin, there are other considerations apart from just the main building material to bear in mind.

You have to think beyond the obvious. While it’s relatively easy to remember to look at alternatives to brass coffin handles, it’s quite a different matter to consider how the coffin lid will close. Metal screws aren’t going to decompose and don’t make for a biodegradable coffin.

Then there is the coffin liner. Plastic is still a very common option, but there are some fantastic alternatives to choose from these days.

Bio willow coffin options

At Musgrove Willows, every coffin is made in our workshop with willow grown on our farm. So that’s a big environmental tick in the box. Coffin handles are available in a multitude of different willow colours and finishes or in rope. Both are biodegradable.

Bio willow coffins
White willow handles and matching plait

The waterproof liner fitted in each of our coffins is made from corn starch. All our coffins are 100% plastic free. They are currently hand lined with natural calico – an unbleached, plain woven textile. Again, natural dyes can be used to colour the coffin lining. (This is done here by hand.)  With our eco credentials (Musgrove Willows is a carbon neutral company) other materials are constantly being considered. For example, fabric is now made from bamboo. It’s finding the right product to meet our exacting standards.

Biodegradable willow coffins
Natural dye was used to create this yellow liner

Families may opt to have a pillow and/or mattress in the coffin. Ours are all handmade by our resident seamstresses using natural calico. Both the pillows and the mattresses are filled with hay which is grown in some of our fields. It is also becoming more common for a family to request a specific colour for a pillow and/or mattress. The interior can become an integral part of the coffin design.

Over the past few years, it has been noticeable how many more families are choosing wooden toggle closures for the coffin lid rather than screws. It is relatively easy for us to use natural dyes to colour the toggles, so these can also end up becoming a rather eye-catching design feature.

Biodegradable willow coffin
Toggles to close the lid

For a fully biodegradable coffin, you need to look beyond a traditional brass name plate. Sustainable oak is our preferred option. Plaques are engraved with a state-of-the-art laser and then tied to the coffin lid. Simple images can also be incorporated.

Sustainable oak name plate

Bio willow coffins – a final word

Willow not only makes a fantastic (and beautiful) biodegradable coffin choice it is also a sustainable one. Willow is a fast growing crop. It takes around 3 years to become established and can then be harvested every year for decades.

If you are keen to make an environmentally friendly coffin choice, do be wary of the provenance of the coffin. The willow coffin market is awash with imports from Eastern Europe and Asia. The air miles (and workmanship) are in a very different league to ours.

So, there it is. Willow makes a great choice for a biodegradable coffin. Ours have been tested and approved by the Funeral Furnishing Manufacturers’ Association and are suitable for burial, cremation and woodland sites.

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