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Originally published December 5 2009

Now You Can Even Die Green: Biodegradable Eco-Coffins Introduced in U.S.

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) A Colorado-based company is now offering U.S. consumers the option of being buried in a fully biodegradable casket made out of banana sheaves and bamboo.

"As more and more American families and communities look for eco-friendly solutions to everything in life, Ecoffins provides fitting tributes to those choosing to honor their environmentally conscious lifestyle at the time of their death," says the company, Ecoffins USA, on its Web site.

According to Ecoffins USA's marketing director, Joanna Passarelli, the coffins have proved particularly popular in New Mexico, where there is strong support for eco-friendly ceremonies. Passarelli says that the company has also found interest among Jewish and Muslim communities.

Jewish and Muslim tradition discourages anything that would prevent the body from returning quickly naturally to the earth, such as embalming or cremation. This sentiment is shared with supporters of natural burial.

The company has already sold $40,000 worth of its coffins, which can be purchased from 14 funeral homes across the United States. The coffins start at $800 for the smallest, while the largest is eight feet long and can hold up to 325 pounds.

Billing itself as environmentally responsible in all aspects of its business, Ecoffins USA touts its products as having a low carbon footprint. Although they are manufactured in Asia and then shipped to the United States, they are produced entirely by hand very close to where the raw materials are harvested, thus keeping production energy use low. Because smaller coffins can be stacked inside larger ones, more of the coffins can be shipped in a compact space, also keeping shipping cost and fuel use down.

According to Stephen Dawson, owner of Sax-Tiedemann Funeral Home and Crematorium in Franklin, Ill., the banana coffins are not as unconventional as many people might think. In the 1950s and '60s, he said, funeral homes commonly used woven baskets to transport bodies from health facilities.

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