Did you know you can reduce your environmental footprint on the planet even after you’ve left it?

In British Columbia a Victoria funeral parlour is promoting cardboard caskets covered in wood veneer. They are made from 100 per cent recycled carboard, pressed in honeycomb style to provide strength. The coffins come in convincing imitations of oak, mahogany and pine.

Cardboard caskets require less time and fuel in the cremation process, which reduces emissions. B.C. is the North American leader in cremation, with more then 80 per cent of clients choosing it as an alternative to burial.

The caskets cost less than their real wood counterparts and it is expected the price will fall as volume increases.

Which reminds me of a personal experience. When my mother died a good many years ago, the family opted for a rather cheap grey cloth-covered casket. The reason was that my brother had a young family and we did not want her modest estate to be eaten up by high funeral costs.

I remember a woman friend of my mother’s berating me after the funeral for not showing my mother respect by not purchasing an expensive casket.

Which leaves two reasons in favour of a biodegadable cardboard casket: cost and the envirornment.

What do you think?

Would you consider a cardboard casket?



  1. 1
    Cornelius T. Zen Says:

    Good morrow, all!
    *Ahem* The best time to show anyone respect is while they are still alive. (Anyone listening here?) Elaborate, costly funerals are carried out, not because the deceased was well-respected, but because somebody out there demands to be impressed, meaning, entertained. The ceremony surrounding the funeral of Pope John Paul II was amazingly ostentatious. His casket, however, looked like it had been cobbled out of D-grade plywood, which would do the job easily as well as any endangered-species hardwood from a soon-to-be extinct tropical rain forest. I believe that had been his wish, to go simply. The really big party would be on St. Peter. « Yo, Johnny Paul, ’bout time, dude! We were just about to send Gabe out for more beer! Hey, guys, easy on the kielbasa, the Guest of Honour just got here! »
    Does that make sense? CTZen

  2. 2
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    [I am reposting this as it did not appear when I posted it…sorry if it turns out to be a repeat!]

    What a great question!

    Yes! Yes! Yes! I would buy a cardboard casket in a heartbeat!

    I was fortunate enough to have had the kind of relationship with my parents that we could and did have conversations about dying and finances and what they wanted at their own funerals…and cheap and practical were the operative words.

    I got the cheapest casket I could for my father…but even then it was way more fancy than anything he would have wanted. How great it would have been to have a cardboard casket…and my father would have LOVED it…his response would inevitably have been: hell, take the money you saved and take all my so-called « mourners » down to a great restaurant and have a good time on me!

    Both my parents were cremated and that is my desire as well. Geez, I don’t want my soul hovering around my decrepid and decaying body…ashes to ashes, dust to dust…and the faster that my soul goes to whereever it is that it needs to go to without being attached and distracted by my physical body, the better it will be for all concerned. I can’t imagine wasting any more space on the planet by having a gravestone and plot in some airy, tree-lined cemetary.

    And while we’re at it: what a WASTE of wonderful real estate is Montreal’s Mount Royal cemetary! The best area in the city is reserved for DEAD PEOPLE! I am all for digging up each and every body from each and every grave and mausoleum in that place and transplanting them to some place up north. In its place, beautiful condominiums and parks should sprout up.

    The nicest area in the city should be reserved for the living, NOT for the dead!

  3. 3
    Chimera Says:

    Neil, I hope your answer to that old biddy was that if it was good enough for the pope, it should be good enough for anyone! Popes are mandated to be interred in plain plywood boxes, are they not? Anyone who thinks you ought to have the most expensive funeral in town ought to be made to pay for it themselves.

    If this is about environmental footprints, I’m afraid the research I’ve done on cremation does not fit well with environmentalism. Cremation takes up much less space, but it’s an energy pig and heavy polluter, no matter what materials make up the coffin.

    « The coffins come in convincing imitations of oak, mahogany and pine. »

    The first question that popped into my mind was, « Who needs to be convinced? »

    I haven’t finished researching, yet (I’m not in any hurry), but I’m hearing about some interesting alternatives to cremation and traditional burial techniques. Things like coffins (made of any material) are not required at all. Embalming is not mandatory. And who says the dead need to lay comfortably at full length? Stuff like that.

  4. 4
    SUZANNE Says:

    For myself, I’m not that picky. Whatever works. For someone else…it would depend on the person. Some people would love to be buried in something like that, others would prefer something traditional. I think I would want to honour the person according to their wishes or inclination.

  5. 5
    Heidi Gulatee Says:

    For myself I would not care, I prefer cremation because it seems to take up less space. A little box is enough. I prefer the flowers and the rest of it, like love, respect etc in my life time. So, what happens after my death, as little money spent as possibel and a simpel burial. I will write what down what I envision and then leave it up to my loved ones to respect that.
    For someone else, I would do what they asked me to do.
    About Mount Royal, it is a beautiful place, I was at a grave site burial this week and the land scape is magnificient. If it was not so inaccesibel without a car I would wander around as I did in Switzerland and study the names.
    There are always connections to be found, lots of history.

  6. 6

    Good to hear that casket manufactures are beginning to listen to the consumer segment trend of the funeral service industry, rather than the funeral home / director side (their immediate customer). It is of my opinion that the baby boomer generation will continue to drive change and that change will also be seen with funerals. With global warming, the « green movement », if you will is becoming larger by the day. Living green is not unheard of on the coasts and in many European countries. This life style will soon no longer be a trend, but a way of life in the United States. My husband owns 3 funeral homes and my son and I own a crematory and are members of the Life Story Funeral Home network which has already conducted a few green funerals. We are also certified by the Green Burial Council to ensure that the cemeteries that we arrange a green burial for is a legitimate green site, ensuring both a dignified burial and conservation of the land. The more biodegradable caskets available to funeral homes, the greater the readiness factor for the consumer will be to consider a green burial as an end of life funeral option.

  7. 7


    What a heartening and exciting comment. You are in the funeral industry yourself but you see the industry becoming part of the « green movement. » Bravo.

    I checked our your site and read your interesting bio. Indeed you have had a rich life. Thanks again for your comment.

  8. 8
    littlepatti Says:

    This is an idea whose time has come. We intend to leave very specific instructions and prepaid funerals. We’ve worked too hard for the money we have to be buried in the ground with it, in the form of a casket and a headstone.
    I drive past tumbled down, old headstones in graveyards every day, and it’s clear that after the immediate generation dies, the following ones seldom visit their graves, if ever. People today move around the world, yet we conduct death rituals much the same as 100 years ago.
    We would like cremation, no viewing or funeral parlor, a brief,Christian memorial service followed by a catered « garden party » at home, (if we are still fortunate to be living in our home.) We decided that our ashes would be placed in the base of a small granite fountain in our back yard, where we would have a quiet place to meditate and celebrate life. Our children can do whatever they want with the fountain and ashes in later years.
    Our Grand daughter will pay part of her college tuition with the savings and she will learn the value of simplicity in a loving act.

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