TELLURIDE – When you go, go green.
Thanks to Telluride-based EcoffinsUSA, eco-friendly caskets, coffins and urns are now available nationwide to funeral directors and funeral homes for an all-natural, green burial.
Ecoffins are hand woven from organic sustainable materials, available in six unique casket styles, four coffin patterns and six ashes urns. Standard sizes accommodate adults up to 325 pounds; smaller sizes are also available.
Ecoffins biodegrade naturally, leaving nothing behind but human remains within six months to one year from the time of burial. The product also works well for cremation, releasing dramatically fewer toxins than conventional coffins during the cremation process.
The idea behind Ecoffins became a reality eight years ago when William Wainman decided to make coffins and caskets out of sustainable materials. He created a family business in the United Kingdom to sell the product, and in 2007 introduced his eco-friendly coffins to the United States at a National Funeral Directors Conference in Las Vegas, where it was subsequently named “best new display.”
In January 2008, with the assistance of U.S. managing partner Kathryn Joseph, EcoffinsUSA, LLC opened a Telluride office.
“In building our products, we don’t use glue, preservatives or chemicals,” Joseph said in an interview last week. “So when you go into the ground, it will completely decompose. Conventional caskets with iron take about 50 years to degrade. Funeral industries are looking at making land use more eco-friendly.”
Joseph said the coffins and caskets are manufactured in the most environmentally friendly way. The company’s factories in South China and Indonesia have both been awarded fair trade status by the International Fair Trade Association, with their factory in northeast China currently being examined by the IFTA.
“Anything we produce is fair trade certified,” she said. “The same rules apply for those who work in the factories. We are very strict about making sure high standards are maintained. You have to treat employees properly. They must have health insurance and make a good living doing what they are doing.”
Ecoffin manufactures their entire product line using only environmentally sustainable materials, such as bamboo, which is grown and harvested in licensed plantations. When the plant is cut down at the root, it takes just 59 days to grow back to full height without any need for replanting. The Ecoffin products are also made from pandanus – an environmentally friendly alternative to sea grass, which is threatened by costal development.
Ecoffins are also made from willow cut from bushes known as crowns, which are harvestable for close to 40 years before they need to be replanted. They are also manufactured with banana sheaves that peel off from the trunk of the plant naturally each year.
All of the items are shipped with cotton liners, and caskets and coffins include a waterproof shroud and bamboo headrest.
Right now, Ecoffins are sold online and over the phone. The products are shipped “Russian doll style” – one coffin nested inside another – to a storage facility in Montrose, and from there to buyers across the nation.
“Even in shipping and the way we ship, we work as eco-friendly as we can in every way,” Joseph said. “It has become our lifestyle.”
Joseph went on to say that they try to keep the cost of the products at a minimum.
“We try to keep costs below $1,000,” she said. “We can’t control the cost of what funeral homes mark up. We do recommend to them though that our most expensive one wouldn’t sell for more than $1,000.”
Since EcoffinsUSA launched last January, Joseph said business has been good, though “it is taking people some time getting used to them and the idea.”
For more product information visit www.ecoffins.co.uk.