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A Complete Guide to Biodegradable Coffins, Urns and Shrouds

Posted by Tracey Gelder on
A Complete Guide to Biodegradable Coffins, Urns and Shrouds

When you want your passing to be marked with a burial at Tithe Green Natural Burial – or a close friend or relative has requested the same – it is very important that whatever is holding the body or ashes is made out of 100% biodegradable materials.

If this is the first time you are faced with organising a natural burial, you might be unsure what constitutes a biodegradable coffin, urn or shroud. You might also be wondering why their use is such an essential part of the process, what your options are, and how you can go about finding and buying one.

In this guide, we’re going to give you all the information you need to make your environmentally friendly burial or ashes interment as easy and straightforward as possible.

What are biodegradable coffins, urns and shrouds?

Traditional coffins commonly used for burials and cremations are usually made from wood such as oak, ash and elm, or else will have a veneer finish laminated onto chipboard or MDF. They will also often be chemically treated and have additional features such as brass handles and fittings, some kind of lining and other extras.

What all these materials have in common is that they can release large quantities of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere during a cremation, or take years to degrade and leak chemicals into the environment if used for a burial or interment.

Biodegradable coffins, urns and shrouds, on the other hand, are designed to have a minimal impact on the environment whether used for cremation, burial or interment. In most regards, they are just like standard ones, in that they are usually the same size and shape, and have exactly the same function.

They are usually no more expensive – in fact, in many cases they are considerably cheaper – and can be just as visually impressive as a wooden version if that’s a consideration for you.

It’s just that they have been manufactured with the wellbeing of the planet in mind in all aspects of their design and construction.

What is a biodegradable coffin made from?

If you’re looking for a biodegradable coffin, the good news is that you’re not short of great options. With options such as wicker, bamboo, banana leaf, willow, cardboard, wool, untreated pine and pandanus (a species of trees and shrubs from the screw pine family), there are plenty of suitable materials available to suit all tastes and budgets.

Willow tends to be at the pricier end of the scale, while cardboard is likely to be the most affordable. You can also brighten up a cardboard coffin by having it printed in a more attractive colour or with an image – using environmentally friendly ink, of course! 

And if you’re worried that cardboard and banana leaf don’t sound as strong as oak, we can assure you that most professionally made eco-friendly coffins have been designed to safely bear the weight of well over 20 stone.

You can find a selection of biodegradable coffin suppliers whose products can be used at Tithe Green Natural Burial on our Useful Links & Resources page.

What is a biodegradable shroud made from?

There is perhaps no more natural or traditional way to bury someone than by using a shroud. It’s also a highly attractive, affordable, sustainable and environmentally friendly choice. Common materials used to make biodegradable shrouds include wool, hemp, cotton, bamboo and flax. 

Your shroud will usually be attached with straps and handles, made out of the same material, to make carrying it easier. 

What is a biodegradable urn made from?

As with coffins, there’s no shortage of choice when it comes to finding a suitable biodegradable urn for an environmentally friendly ashes interment. Understandably, there won’t be the same requirement for strength, opening up further possibilities in terms of the materials that can be used.

That can include similar options to those used for coffins, while biodegradable urns for ashes can also be made out of corn starch, recycled paper, or even sand or salt. Again, that means that you have options suitable for a range of budgets and with varying aesthetic appeal.

Incidentally, when you collect ashes from the crematorium, they will be provided in a bio-box that is also fully biodegradable (they’re made out of paper and cardboard), so there’s no need to buy anything extra if you’re happy to use it.

Biodegradable urn suppliers whose products can be used at Tithe Green Natural Burial can be found on our Useful Links & Resources page.

All burials and interments at Tithe Green Natural Burial need to be carried out using fully biodegradable materials. That means that you can take comfort in knowing that your choice is not only helping to both protect our woodland and wildflower meadow sites from damaging chemicals but also helping to encourage wildlife and boost local biodiversity.

Find out more about our natural burial site, or get more information on available options for biodegradable coffins, urns and shrouds that can be used there, by getting in touch with us today.

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