Sustainably produced, biodegradable coffins

Living Legacies supplies sustainably produced, biodegradable pine, poplar and willow coffins to the top of the South Island, and to its full funeral clients nationwide. They are untreated, undecorated and unlined so families can decorate them inside and out as they wish – a very therapeutic creative outlet for expressing grief and love.

Pine coffin

Living Legacies offers a plain untreated pine box coffin for those who take their environmental responsibility seriously. They come in two sizes: The smaller one is 1830mm long x 610mm wide x 390mm deep.  They are available only in the top of the South Island and cost $950 plus freight, unless Living Legacies is assisting with a full funeral elsewhere. These are a healthy, environmentally responsible alternative to MDF, chipboard, plywood, or hardwoods such as rimu, oak, and mahogany.

Custom sizes can also be made to measure with enough advance notice, so please order in advance for your own peace of mind.

We also offer:

Go Willow

Willow coffin


Tenderrest coffin

Return to Sender

Return to sender artisan

Coffins from these three companies can be shipped anywhere in New Zealand by conventional freight companies, if time allows.

Coffins are commercially made from many different materials, the most common being medium density fibreboard (MDF). Most of the coffins sold by funeral directors are made of MDF, even those with a natural timber veneer. MDF is highly toxic, both in the ground and in cremated particulates in the air. Even the process of making MDF is highly pollutive.

Some of the top of the funeral director’s range are made from native and imported hardwood timbers such as rimu, mahogany, and oak, and most of it has not been sustainably grown or harvested. These trees are better left standing in the forest providing habitats for wildlife than cut down and turned into coffins that will only be used for a few days, then destroyed!

There are now “Ecocoffins” becoming increasingly available. Don’t be fooled into believing they are necessarily sustainable or environmentally responsible. Most are imported from China, which in itself is unsustainable, and some unscrupulous traders just use the label to mean “cheap” as in eco-nomical rather than eco-logical! Please check out the details of production, transportation and biodegradability of all the components of a coffin before you buy. (Independently, because not all funeral directors can be trusted to tell the whole truth, unfortunately…)

Alternatively, in most cases a coffin is optional anyway. A body could technically be buried in a shroud or body bag or just wrapped in a blanket or rug on a solid board. However, it has become the socially accepted norm in New Zealand and some other countries to use coffins.  Eco friendly coffins should be available from all funeral directors as an economical and sustainable alternative. When they realise there is sufficient demand for them they will supply them, and some are starting to. Please contact your local funeral company and ask for sustainably produced, biodegradable coffins (not MDF) to be available in your town – before you need one!

Please contact Living Legacies for more information about coffins and other resources.