Green Funerals » Coffins and caskets

In terms of the environment a shroud probably has less impact than any coffin.... but cultural beliefs and history put them out of many peoples comfort zone. There are cardboard coffins, but production of cardboard is not environmentally neutral - it takes a lot of energy and chemical procedures to break down the fibres so they can be re-formed in sheets. Note that cardboard is not being accepted by some crematoriums. In America they bury mainly steel caskets, you can read more about that here. Most NZ coffins are made from MDF covered with an artificial wood grain and adorned with coated plastic handles. MDF contains a lot of glue and takes a lot of energy to produce. If you choose MDF due to its low cost note that plain coffins are available nationwide without the wood grain or plastic handles. Solid timber coffins are available through all funeral directors and they don't need to be highly polished. There are numerous options with no coating at all or natural oil / wax finishes. Plywood is another option. It has tremendous strength for its weight allowing less material to be used to make the coffin. Also, the natural wood grain has not been destroyed, as in MDF, so it doesn't need an artificial wood grain applied to it.