Celebrant Views

Authentically Alternative Series ©: 7 Alternative Coffins

pink willow coffin

7 Alternative Coffins

As the Alternative Celebrant, I love to explore alternative ways to celebrate, reflect on and commemorate the chapters of our lives.  In this 4th Authentically Alternative Series, I explore some of the alternatives to the traditional coffin.

Gone are the days when following a bereavement the only option was to go to the funeral director and choose from a small selections of wooden coffins and brass fittings, largely dependent on your budget.  These days there are all sorts of places you can shop for a huge variety of coffins and even more ‘out there’ alternative.  Whether you are basing your decision on being more environmentally friendly; more stylish; more budget conscious; or more individuality her are some of my favourite alternative options to the traditional coffin

Non – traditional Shaped Coffins

Skiing coffin: Crazy coffinsHow did I not know that this service was available in the UK before researching this post?!

Based in Nottingham, Crazy Coffins “brings together a small team of joiners, designers and artists, who for twenty years have been hand-producing coffins which no-one else has been willing to make.”

Each design is hand built to the customers specifications and beautifully reflects the passions and individuality of the deceased.  Trying to select one image to reflect this magnificent idea is impossible so here are a few of my favourites.

They do urns too.

VW golf Urn keyboard coffin by crazy coffins Jack Daniels Bottle coffin crazy coffins : enterprise Urn

Fully Biodegradable Wooden Coffins

It is possible these days to buy coffins made from sustainably sourced local wood, naturally waxed rather than chemically varnished; held together with pegs and dowels; hemp rope handles; and linings of unbleached fair trade cotton.

Check out Feet First Coffins 

Cardboard Coffins

Cardboard coffinGreenfield Coffins were the first makers in the UK to produce bespoke decorated cardboard coffins.  Still a family business, the current directors father came up with the design in 1989 and went into production in 1990.  As well as an engineer he was a sign writer so became painting bespoke designs onto the cardboard for his customers. The company now produces a wide selection of coffins and caskets


Willow Coffins

pink willow coffinAnother great biodegradable option is the willow coffin.  I’m looking a The Somerset Willow Coffins who began trading in 1959 when they first made pigeon baskets and in 1998 became the first UK makers of fully willow coffins.  Both traditionally shaped or beautifully curved, they pride themselves on craftsmanship.  They will even weave in some colour, so naturally I’ve screenshot their pink one!


Burial Shrouds

Woven raw fleece burial shroudAs an alternative to a coffin, a burial shroud is a large piece of material in which the deceased’s body is wrapped.   These can be made of fabrics such as cotton, linen, muslin, or even hemp.  How you decorate your loved one’s burial shroud is up to you.  Some have large pockets sewn on top so you can add keepsakes and fragrant herbs. Also, in reference to the mushroom suit, these can be impregnated with mushroom spores.

The one pictured is made from raw fleece on a simple peg loom, by Pentiddy Burial Shrouds, based in Cornwall


Mushroom Suits

I love the idea of speeding up the decomposition process and returning my body to the earth as quickly as possible.  That’s perhaps why I was so taken with the idea of the Infinity Suit or  Mushroom Death Suit.  Basically the design is a jumpsuit infused with mushroom spores

Human Composting

An arists vision of the future from
An arists vision of the future from a BBC article

Not yet a legal option in the Kk but I was reading this article in Everloved a few weeks ago and thought it was a brilliant idea . ” On May 1st, 2020, Washington State became the first state in the US to allow composting human remains as a legal method of disposition. Composting bodies was previously not possible and may give some people a general sense of uneasiness, but it’s one of the most environmentally friendly and natural methods of disposition available today.”





For further ideas for more ecologically sound options to burials follow this link to my blog post Alternative End of Life Options: Eco Burials

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