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Susanne's recommendations for a natural coffin

By Susanne Duijvestein, sustainable funeral director at Bijafscheid

Even if you'd rather never think of it (after all, who wants to lie in a coffin), but sooner or later you have to make the inevitable choice. So which one is it going to be? Will it be a coffin or would you rather be wrapped in a wade? Or will it be a basket or that special wide one, for a side position?


Natural coffins

In the Netherlands you are not legally obliged to use a coffin. The Mortuary Act says it may also be a 'shell.' This can be a basket, a wade, everything is allowed. Make sure you check the policy of the (nature) cemetery or crematorium, as they may have their own requirements. With cremation, for example, the bottom must safe for entry into the oven, or be of a material that does not catch fire too quickly.


I have one principle: no chipboard. Chipboard contains formaldehyde and is very harmful to the environment.

I let a family choose anything they what. Because who am I to decide for them? But I have one principle: no chipboard. Chipboard contains formaldehyde and is very harmful to the environment. Both burial and cremation release toxic substances in nature. Chipboard boxes have long been banned in many countries, but are still allowed in the Netherlands.


In other words, solid wood, made from biobased composite, or woven willow twigs, bamboo, a wicker basket. There is even a cardboard box, which is becoming very popular as a statement piece. You can also make a coffin or box yourself. How beautiful is that. But again, pay attention to the requirements of the crematorium or the (nature) cemetery.

The coffin as Cash Cow

Another thing to keep in mind. The coffin is the cash cow of the funeral industry. I sometimes see chests appear on invoices for double or even triple the purchase price. Some funeral directors aim to earn a lot of money from the coffin, without adding value to it. So be critical of the prices you see or hear, keep asking, ask for transparency.


The coffin is the cash cow of the funeral industry. So be critical, ask for transparency.

I myself work according to a new style of funeral directors. I don't have shady agreements with suppliers, nor do I earn commission on a coffin. I charge the purchase price, without margin. My added value is my guidance.


And now that inevitable coffin. Or basket, or wade of course. Below are my tips to help you make your choice.



Read also

- Becoming a tree: the Bios urn and Capsula Mundi change your mind

- Recompose, “Humusation” as an emerging alternative to burial and cremation

- Death. How do they do it in Japan?

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