If life is about being ecologically sensitive then why not death? After all you wouldn’t want to taint this world while you are leaving for the next. Greg Holdsworth thinks so. So let’s buy into his ideas for eco-coffins.
This news comes to us from New Zealand, but the business of funerals being universal, Greg’s ideas for eco-friendly coffins should have takers from around the world. Greg Holdsworth’s unique coffin designs are made from rimu, poplar and plywood, substances which have less impact on the environment in comparison to MDF, which is used in 95 percent of the coffins.
Commonly coffins may get consigned to the earth, but that’s where they cause harm. Toxins used in the manufacture of MDF coffins as well as in the embalming process leaches into the earth. They can potentially cause asthma, nausea and eye and throat irritation among other serious ailments. Coffins come with metal coated plastic handles or rims which remain non-recyclable. For instance in New Zealand, among the 29,000 who died last year, 95 percent where cremated in coffins made from MDF.
An Environment Ministry sustainable design document highlights that the percentage is equivalent to more than a million kilograms of MDF and 15,000kg of metal-plated plastic handles.
Greg Holdsworth as a coffin designer has worked on a new range of designs which offer a viable ecological alternative. Apart from the materials used, his designs have features like built in handles. The coffins are also made from sustainably harvested and untreated wood.
Greg says that mindsets are slowly changing towards the green,
“Most of my clients are an interesting mix of ‘green to the core’ operators and mainstream early adopters, some of whom are industry leaders who have made an effort to embrace new designs and take stock of their environmental impact.”
Many funeral homes are gradually veering towards more sustainable practices. Preservation of the body is also being reworked from the traditional method of embalming using formaldehyde to eco-friendly refrigeration.
New Zealand also has one of a kind ‘natural burial site’ in Wellington. Natural burials include biodegradable coffins or shrouds. The bodies are buried only 70 cm deep in the richer strata of soil. Also, a tree is planted instead of a headstone.
Natural burials may or may not catch on but using biodegradable coffins should be a quick changeover.
Image: Maxx xx