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Thank you, SW Barratt

Standard eco-coffin

Eco-Friendly Coffins – Are they Possible?

Published: May 24, 2024

Many people are unaware of how much a funeral costs and more so that they are able to purchase an eco friendly coffin if the funeral is not a direct cremation package. Some undertakers who operate direct cremations allow the coffin to be changed to a cheaper one, such as cardboard, but there is often no reduction in fees as the low-cost is an all in package.

Having said this it does no harm to ask if someone particularly wanted to use a cardboard coffin or decorate a coffin with paints. You are often advised to use water based paints for cremation purposes.

We all know that mostly the deceased are buried in coffins, but not everyone knows why. People have always tried to find a way to keep the body of their loved ones in the best conditions and, for this, different types of coffins are used. Although they can be confused and are usually talked about interchangeably, there is a great difference between different  coffins.

The common characteristic is that both have the utility of introducing the deceased for burial or cremation. The question of whether environmentally friendly coffins are possible has been asked for some time now. The answer, fortunately, is yes! 

This article will explore why this is the case and the many benefits of utilising an eco friendly coffin. Links contained within the article will enable you to learn more and purchase a coffin; as for the differences, we can find:

  1. Shape: In general coffins have a hexagonal shape, they end in a point and the lower area, where the feet are located, is narrower than the upper area, intended for the shoulders. This style of coffin is often referred to as a ‘Toe-Pinch’ coffin. Some coffins are however completely rectangular.
  2. The lid: The entire lid, which is used only to introduce the deceased, is typical of many coffins, while some lids have a lid divided into two whose upper part can be opened so that the relatives can see the deceased.
  3. The materials: Although wood is the most widely used material in both cases, there are metal or fibreglass options for the coffin. In addition, the latter usually has a padded lining.

Eco friendly coffins

If you are looking for a coffin that provides dignity and eco friendly coffin solutions; then you could consider handcrafted coffins from solid pine wood.

All the coffins and caskets in the four images below are made from timber from sustainable forests, and are constructed using pegs and dowels. They do not contain screws, nails or anything non degradable. These coffins are 100% environmentally friendly.

Pine coffins

Toe-pinch casket

Toe-pinch casket

Scandinavian eco casket

Scandinavian eco casket

Scandinavian eco casket

Toe-Pinch Casket with Lid



Above images are copyright and courtesy of Feet First Coffins

Traditional coffin with brass handles

A solid wooden coffin with brass handles, unfortunately the brass handles would mean that is not environmentally friendly.

At the time of the death of a family member, it is important to know how to choose the right coffin. To do this, we must know the differences between coffin and coffin, especially in use, materials, and characteristics. In addition, there are different types of casket depending, mainly, on the different materials available but also other characteristics such as the coating or the colour.

Coffin certificate

You will normally need to purchase a coffin which is FFMA (Funeral Furnishing Manufacturers Association) approved for cremations. As well as cremation the coffin is also tested for other reasons. This includes holding a certain weight and not distorting. This is important for burials as well as cremations.

Biodegradable construction

A 100% eco friendly coffin has biodegradable construction, which is individually designed and crafted, is a good choice for the environment. There are no screws, nails, metal hinges, or heavy chemical-based glues, plywood, synthetic materials, or other hardware.

This means that it is a perfect solution and completely natural. This independent company works with you to meet your needs, with design tweaks and modifications possible. You can be sure that you will be able to obtain impeccable quality. Personalised options are available also.

Benefits of choosing an eco friendly coffin

Hands holding small tree

The first point to consider is whether you are looking for a burial or cremation coffin. If you opt for the former, many environmentally friendly options are available online. Cremations have also risen in popularity over recent years, and it’s not uncommon to be faced with several choices of eco friendly coffins during this process. For both burial and cremation, cardboard coffins are a popular choice for those looking to make an environmentally friendly decision when planning the funeral of a loved one.

Cardboard is recyclable and 100% biodegradable, which means it’s safe for the environment! In addition, the coffin can be decorated with paint, making them a beautiful coffin for either burial or cremation. It is important to check when purchasing a cardboard coffin that it is not lined with a waterproof sealer, as these will not be accepted at a natural burial site, and likewise will not be biodegradable.

What to think about when choosing a coffin

Woman in thought

Although there are many benefits to choosing an eco friendly coffin, it’s important to consider a few factors when making your decision. Firstly, you need to think about the funeral service that will take place and how this affects where the coffin is placed during proceedings. Some services, such as woodland/natural burials, require biodegradable coffins. However, there are many eco-friendly coffin burial solutions available which are discussed with links further on in this article.

Secondly, you should consider what kind of coffin will best represent your loved one and how this fits in with their life choices, including any environmental causes they may have championed. For example, if your loved one was an avid recycler and environmental campaigner, then a green-themed coffin may be ideal for their funeral service. Finally, it would be best if you decided what price range is most appropriate. 

Eco friendly coffin suppliers are listed lower in this post and are available with varying costs. It’s important not to rush into a decision and choose the first coffin that comes to hand as it may not be the most eco friendly option available. In this case, it’s best to talk through your options with a low-cost funeral director who can help you find something which will represent your loved one perfectly while still fitting within your budget.

What makes biodegradable coffins important?

Cartoon image of green hand with leaves

The biodegradable materials used in green eco friendly coffins means the coffin will begin to decompose naturally after burial, with no chemical leakage meaning it will not pose a risk to wildlife and other environmental factors. This is important as many people want their final resting place to be safe for animals and future generations, which is not always possible with traditional non-biodegradable coffins.

Autumn woodland

As you can see, there are many benefits of choosing an environmentally friendly coffin. When making your decision, make sure you consider what kind of funeral service, the environmental factors of your loved one’s life and whether the price is a factor.

What materials are eco friendly coffins made of?

Natural wood

There are a number of different materials that an eco-friendly coffin can be made from, with each having its own benefits and drawbacks. The most popular choice as already mentioned is wood, which is easy to work with and durable. However, it’s important to ensure your coffin is sourced from sustainable sources, so you don’t contribute to deforestation or contribute to a loss of natural habitat.

Eco-coffin with flower spray


Cardboard coffins are the cheapest coffin available and have become more popular over the years. However, it should be pointed out that environmentally friendly burial sites such as ‘Green’ burial sites do not often allow cardboard coffins as the inside of the coffin is often sealed with a chemical sealer which is not environmentally friendly. Sometimes the outside of a cardboard coffin can have a plastic finish, which again is not environmentally friendly. They are of course far better in terms of actually being cremated, as they use around 60% less energy to burn than wood. A common question that is asked is what is the most eco friendly coffin for cremation? The answer is that cardboard or wicker/wool is.

Cardboard coffin


These hand-made coffins have become more popular, and are made from natural materials such as willow reed. For more information on willow coffins and wicker coffins click the links. Willow and wicker coffins are accepted at natural burial sites.

On a very similar theme coffins can also be made from:

  • Banana leaves Not supplied to the public – purchase from funeral director
  • Pandanus leaves
  • Cane Not supplied to the public – purchase from funeral director
  • Seagrass Not supplied to the public – purchase from funeral director
  • Bamboo
  • Wool Not supplied to the public – ask your funeral director to purchase through JC Atkinson Tel: 0191 415 1516

The term Wicker generally refers to Willow, Rattan, Reed and Bamboo. Rattan is generally grown in Southeast Asia, while the others can be grown in England.

Wicker coffin

When you’re looking for an undertaker  to handle the arrangements of your loved one, ask if they can use an eco friendly coffin.. This can reduce energy consumption and harmful emissions.

Biodegradable coffin construction

Hands holding small plant

There’s more than one way to celebrate life with a unique coffin; eco friendly burials aren’t just about green material choices anymore. It also means leaving behind nothing but your loved ones’ memories for future generations on earth.

Once biodegradable coffins are buried within the earth, organic materials will begin to decompose and convert into compost. This leaves nothing but beauty behind while emitting no harmful toxins during the entire time-consuming journey.

Some manufacturers ensure that all the pinewood comes from sustainable sources, which helps reduce deforestation and protect valuable habitats and provide habitat for wildlife where possible. This means every last bit of our carbon footprint gets recycled naturally.


Biodegradable materials are fully functional in any available soil type, including sand, gravel and extremely wet regions. This is also one of the greatest advantages of utilising an eco friendly coffin – once the coffin has done its job, it will break down and return into the soil without harming the ecosystem in any way.

Whatever coffin you choose or the deceased wanted it is always advisable to buy direct rather than through an undertaker. Most coffin suppliers can arrange to have the coffin delivered directly to the undertaker, or your home address if you or family members wish to decorate it. 

If you would like to learn more about locating low-cost funerals, low-cost headstones, natural burials, DIY funerals, free financial help from the Government and charities as well as bereavement support, then please visit Save Funeral Costs™

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SW Barratt
Founder: SW Barratt

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