Archive for Thursday, December 27, 2007

Biodegradable coffins part of trend toward eco-friendly burials

December 27, 2007


— Cynthia Beal wants to be an Oregon cherry tree after she dies. She has everything to make it happen - a body, a burial site and a biodegradable coffin.

"It is composting at its best," said Beal, owner of The Natural Burial Company, which will sell a variety of eco-friendly burial products when it opens in January, including the Ecopod, a kayak-shaped coffin made out of recycled newspapers.

Biodegradable coffins are part of a larger trend toward "natural" burials, which require no formaldehyde embalming, cement vaults, chemical lawn treatments or laminated caskets. Advocates say such burials are less damaging to the environment.

Cremation was long considered more environmentally friendly than burials in graveyards, but its use of fossil fuels has raised concerns.

Eco-friendly burials have been popular in Britain for years, and industry experts say they're starting to catch on in the U.S., where "green" cemeteries have sprouted up in California, Florida, New York, South Carolina and Texas.

The majority of eco-friendly burial products come from overseas - including the Ecopod, which is made in the United Kingdom - although there are a few domestic makers. Options range from natural-fiber shrouds to fair-trade bamboo caskets lined with unbleached cotton. There are also more traditional-looking handcrafted coffins made of wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

The market is potentially huge. U.S. funeral homes generate an estimated $11 billion in revenue annually and that figure is sure to grow as baby boomers age.

Biodegradable containers cost from around $100 for a basic cardboard box up to more than $3,000 for a handcrafted, hand-painted model.

"It's hard to tell if it's a fad or if it's here to stay," said Bob Fells, of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association. "We are certainly positioning ourselves that if this is what the community wants, we are ready to serve them."


Marion Lynn 6 years, 3 months ago


I remember seeing that epsiode when it was new and thank Ayou for reminding me of it.

As you may be able to tell, I am nearly a fifth down of Kalashnikov Vodka!

Yes, you can get the vodka to which General Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov, Hero of The Soviet Union, has assigned his licence if you know where and how!

Met him once; a grand gentleman.

Today was the ultimate presentation of the Natural Order of Things.

We humans have difficulty with that but we have no choice; it is The Way Of Things.

Birth, Life, Death.

All these things are natural but tough to deal with.

It is prohibited for the Children of The Night to sleep on my bed with me but tonight may be an exception to the rule.

The Daughetr of Herself has now assumed the role of Alpha Female and HER daughter is now elevated to the position of Beta Female; The Princess In Waiting, if you will.

The Children move faster and with more acceptance than do we humans.

LIFE; the Wonderment of The World, continues.

Thank you for allowing me to vent here and thank you for your kindenss.


none2 6 years, 3 months ago

Marion (Marion Lynn) says:

"...I may take a day or so off as my Girl Dog, the Mother of the Big Boy, Izzy The Dog, passed away this afternoon and I'm having a really, really hard time typing right now..."

Marion, I'm sorry for your loss. I had two cats that both only lived to around 14. They were mother and son. (We had lost her other son at the age of 6.) The son that lived to 14 had diabetes, so I had to give him a shot everyday for the last few years of his life. Some so called friends couldn't understand why didn't just put him to sleep because of the inconvenience on my life. I figured they must never have loved someone or something enough to understand: When you love someone, sacrafices aren't something you debate, you just do them. I will never forget any of my pets because they gave me unconditional love. No hobby, computer game, or amount of money give love let alone unconditional love.

 One of my most favorite Twilight Zone episodes is about an old farmer who goes out hunting; both he and his dog die.  In this after-death state, they both walk down the road, and a guy says he is the angle at the gate of heaven, but no animals are allowed.  The old man says "no thank you" and keeps on walking with his dog.  He finally runs into another guy.  This second guy tells him that the first guy, who didn't allow animals,  was actually the devil.   The second guy says he is the real angel at the gate of heaven, and yes animals are allowed...  That is the kind of afterlife I believe in.  I'm not so arrogant to believe that only humans are the only creation entitled to something after this life ends.

none2 6 years, 3 months ago

I for the life of me cannot figure why anyone would want to go for all this "green" hype. It is just a sales pitch for people who want to feel warm and fuzzy. If you really want to do something good:

1) Donate your body: a) Depending on how you died and how long before they got to you, they may be able to use your organs to help others live longer or better lives. b) Medical science needs cadavers so that young doctors learn about the body before they actually have to work on a live patient. (FYI, my paternal Grandmother did this. It is sad to not have a place to go, but what a selfless thing she did. If life is a stage, this was her encore. I'm very proud of her.) c) If you really want to just rot, they also use bodies for forensic science. I think some forensic school in Tenn. puts bodies out to rot so that they can learn what a body looks like in terms of how long dead, what exposed to, etc.

2) Do have a traditional burial with all the things that can possibly preserve you. Make sure you also take some time capsule with you. Think of what some archaeologists learn out about our past now. Just think what they could have learned if Neanderthal man had known how to preserve their dead.


Marion Lynn 6 years, 3 months ago

Well, be all that as it may...........................

I may take a day or so off as my Girl Dog, the Mother of the Big Boy, Izzy The Dog, passed away this afternoon and I'm having a really, really hard time typing right now.

She was my constant companion for 12 1/2 years.

She had a stroke under my desk after having been given a tummy rub, loves and hugs and quietly crossed to chasing bunnies in the sky.

She was rarin' and goin' right up until the last moment of her life in this plane and was the most wonderful of friends for many years.

Her place in The Pack will be succeeded by her daughter whom she trained as the Beta Female.

I will bury her tomorrow, wrapped in her favourite blankie, in the field that she loved so much.

Hoist one or two sometime for our Lupine/Canine companions and never miss the opportunity to touch the animals for which you care.

Thank you for reading.


RETICENT_IRREVERENT 6 years, 3 months ago

matahari, The cement vault thing is a cemetery by cemetery rule... (I really think it may have started in N.J. by the teamsters) You just need to find a "green" cemetery.

Here are the FAQ's from the Kansas State Board of Mortuary Arts....

Basically, if you do not die from an infectious disease, your family members can strip you nekkid and bury you in the back 40, if your county/city allows it. They have to get it done in 24 hrs, or clear out the venison and stick you in the deep freeze. Otherwise you have to be embalmed. As far as the laws are concerned, no need for a cardboard box. How about a couple of biodegradable leaf bags duct taped together?
Now you just have to own land in a county/city that allows you to be buried on your own land.

$17.00 - Shovel $ 6.00 - Biodegradable Leaf bags (2) $ 2.85 - Duct tape

$25.85 - Total cost


Bitterfalls 6 years, 3 months ago

Wasn't there a "Natural Burial" cemetery started near Lawrence a few years back?

Is Jimmy Hoffa buried in a "Natural cemetery"?

Can I build my own cardboard coffin, and decorate it with macaroni and beans glued to it, and painted? Or maybe have my auntie knit a nice cozy for it?

This will be quite an undertaking.


matahari 6 years, 3 months ago

I am not paying $200 for a cardboard box, but if it's cheaper than cremation, and I must, I will..... me decopher the cement thing mandatory a some cemetaries? And if that cemetary says so, and could you just go find a cemetary that will accept cardboard?


Bitterfalls 6 years, 3 months ago

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. It is the natural order of things to return to the soil from which we are created and sustained.

But with the Bush regime and FEMA and the likelihood of biowarfare, our natural burials will most likely be in mass graves. Thats right, you read me: I blamed Bush for natural burials!

But an eerie and frightening fact is the existance of MILLIONS, yes, thats right, MILLIONS, several hundred thousand in each location, of plastic coffins being stockpiled outside of Atlanta Georgia and Madison Wisconsin and other areas. Mostly nearby proposed or existing FEMA concentration and "Work camps" part of the REX84 projects on American soil. Those coffins are designed and constructed of material that burns "Without harm to the environment". Savor the irony there.

Now another consideration: In many old cemetaries with un-marked graves, mostly of original settlers or on the Oregon and Santa Fe trails, when such graves are found, researchers and others are very hesitant to dig them up because so many died of plagues like typhus, or whatever was going around, and those virii and diseases can live on, and be released if the graves are opened or disturbed.

"Land of the free, home of the brave Go buy a cheap shovel and dig your own grave"

Or in the words of my grandmother: "It costs $1200 bucks for a cremation? Well doesn't that just burn you up!?"


dichloromethane 6 years, 3 months ago

they won't work in Kansas or Missouri, concrete vaults are Require By Law!!!


p.s. go cry to algore!


Marion Lynn 6 years, 3 months ago

Oh, buddy when I die

Throw my body in the back!

Drive me to the junkyard in my Cadillac!"

Cadillac Ranch.

Bruce Springsteen before he got all mellow with his music.


trinity 6 years, 3 months ago

what about mausoleums(sp?), eh? i don't know much about those! i prob'ly could never afford one, but just curious.


George_Braziller 6 years, 3 months ago

Sorry to bust your bubble but other than the state of being dead there is no such thing as "eternity" as far as your body is concerned. Embalming only delays decay, it doesn't stop it. Even if you spend $20,000 on a vault and a casket your body is still going to decay.

"Personally, I would pay whatever to insure my loved ones were in a solid quality caskets for eternity unless creamation was your thing."


blue73harley 6 years, 3 months ago

Another fact - R_I types faster than I do!


blue73harley 6 years, 3 months ago

BigPrune - says, "Must an outer container be used for purposes of burial?

No state law requires that an outer container be used, although (as has been previously mentioned) many cemeteries will require that an outer container be used if burial is to take place on their property."


RETICENT_IRREVERENT 6 years, 3 months ago

Big Prune, No state law requires that a casket must be used. Many cemeteries require that an outer container be used at their facility, but that is a cemetery bylaw situation--and is not a state law.


BigPrune 6 years, 3 months ago

Since a person has to be buried in a concrete vault, why does it matter if the coffin is biodegradable? The burial vault isn't going to biodegrade.


Wilbur_Nether 6 years, 3 months ago

monkeywrench1969, when you wrote "... would insure my loved ones..." did you mean instead to ensure your loved ones...?


Erin Parmelee 6 years, 3 months ago

Well, personally, I am in favor of cremation, but that's only because the law doesn't allow me to just be layed to rest in the forest and decompose naturally. The whole "business" of death just creeps me out! But, if you're in favor of a traditional funeral, I can't for the life of me figure out why you wouldn't be in favor of a biodegradable coffin. I really and truly don't understand the whole "preservation" angle.....


bobberboy 6 years, 3 months ago

Throw me in a ditch pour gasoline over me and light me up. Who cares. - not me.


Dollypawpaw 6 years, 3 months ago

Once the sun super nova's it won't matter if you were biodegraded or not.


preebo 6 years, 3 months ago

Push the little daisies and make 'em come up...


BigPrune 6 years, 3 months ago

In Kansas, conrete burial vaults are required by law. They are required for in the event of a flood - so corpses don't bubble up to the surface and end up on someones front lawn or in the street.


blue73harley 6 years, 3 months ago

Woke up this morning Put on my slippers Walked in the kitchen and died And oh what a feeling! When my soul Went thru the ceiling And on up into heaven I did ride When I got there they did say John, it happened this way You slipped upon the floor And hit your head And all the angels say Just before you passed away These were the very last words That you said:

Chorus: Please don't bury me Down in that cold cold ground No, I'd druther have "em" cut me up And pass me all around Throw my brain in a hurricane And the blind can have my eyes And the deaf can take both of my ears If they don't mind the size Give my stomach to Milwaukee If they run out of beer Put my socks in a cedar box Just get "em" out of here Venus de Milo can have my arms Look out! I've got your nose Sell my heart to the junkman And give my love to Rose

Repeat Chorus

Give my feet to the footloose Careless, fancy free Give my knees to the needy Don't pull that stuff on me Hand me down my walking cane It's a sin to tell a lie Send my mouth way down south And kiss my ass goodbye

Repeat Chorus

Lyrics by John Prine


Ragingbear 6 years, 3 months ago

I just plan on selling the bodies to the Soylent Green factory.

Mmmmm... Soylent Green....


Kathy Getto 6 years, 3 months ago

Cremate me and scatter my ashes in the Rockies - they are so beautiful.

This is silly - why not biodegradable material?


monkeywrench1969 6 years, 3 months ago

I had a very close friend who was the manager of a casket company warehouse in KC and they have had "biodegradable" caskets for years. I toured the plant and it was quite interesting. Until this new push for eco friendly products they were reserved for transients and individuals who had no money at death. These are the products of state funded burials. They are literally a $200 (Charged to the state) card board box with some material glued to the sides to place the deceased in at burial. It is good to see the mark up the eco-friendly crowd are willing to pay for a "hand painted model".

Personally, I would pay whatever to insure my loved ones were in a solid quality caskets for eternity unless creamation was your thing.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.