More and more people are opting for an eco-friendly burial. The biggest way to transform a funeral into a green funeral is the casket—a biodegradable casket that does not harm the environment.
One of the best coffins for a natural burial is a wicker casket. To find out what it is made of, how much it is, and where to buy one, we have gathered everything you need to know about popular and environmental-friendly wicker coffins.
We know it’s very hard to find online sellers that offer wicker caskets—much less at a reasonable price. If you want to skip to the recommendation, we review Titan Casket and alternatives later in the article.
Note: In this article, we use the word “casket” and “coffin” interchangeably. To find out how their meanings differ, you can read more about coffins vs caskets.
What Is a Wicker Casket?
A wicker casket is a burial coffin made of woven materials, most commonly willow, seagrass, and bamboo. Unlike a traditional-looking coffin made of solid wood or metal, wicker caskets resemble a basket with natural-looking finishes.
Trivia: Wicker is actually not a material. It is an ancient weaving technique of making products from plant materials. In fact, it is considered the oldest furniture-making technique, dating back to Ancient Egypt (using reed, cane, and rattan).
Wicker from reed, cane, rattan, and other materials has been used over the centuries to make all sorts of different things.
Wicker coffins are usually handmade. Moreover, their source materials do not need heavy machinery for harvesting. Because of this, wicker caskets have a minimal carbon footprint.
Although they is biodegradable, wicker caskets are rigid and sturdy. They are also strong and can carry up to 330 lbs / 150 kg in weight.
Lastly, wicker caskets are absolutely suitable for viewings and ceremonies. The natural-looking finish make them a presentable and beautiful final resting place for your loved one.
Types of Wicker Coffins
There are usually three types of wicker caskets to choose from:
- Banana Leaf
Banana leaf wicker caskets are the least common.
This is the most common variant of a wicker casket. Willow is a sustainable material; a single strand can grow for up to 8 feet in length. Moreover, one can harvest a willow from the same crown for up to sixty years.
Source: Passages International
Bamboo coffins are handcrafted from a highly renewable material. In fact, bamboo is the fastest growing plant in the world. It can grow for up to 3-4 feet a day. This makes bamboo coffins the most sustainable casket option.
Please note the picture above makes bamboo coffin appear boxy and square. Though some are, you’re just as likely to see bamboo coffins with rounded designs similar to the following picture of the seagrass casket.
Source: Natural Endings
Seagrass caskets are made of an abundant source material found underwater. Usually, the seagrass is wound into rope and then woven into the casket. The finished product is a casket with a natural finish and a beautiful color of cream and light brown.
What Are the Benefits Of a Wicker Coffin?
A wicker casket has its fair share of advantages. Overall, it is:
- Available in various styles and colors
- Extremely affordable
The best and most obvious benefit of using a wicker casket is that it will return to the environment. It will decompose in the soil much faster than standard types of caskets.
Even compared to wood, it will decompose much faster because of its material and increased surface area.
Available In Various Styles
Willow coffins are available in a variety of designs, styles, and shapes. They are also available in a wide range of colors.
You can add a personal touch to a wicker casket. For instance, you can add a flower arrangement. Flowers resting on top of the casket are called casket sprays. It can also decorated according to your loved one’s personality.
Price (Very Affordable)
Other than the benefit of potentially saving the planet, using wicker caskets also promise an economic advantage. That is, you can save a lot of money by buying wicker coffins rather than traditional caskets.
One course, reported by ITV, teaches students how to build their own wicker caskets, a process that is commonly (and effectively) used as a grieving process. Or you can build your own and use it as a bookshelf or other decoration, decades before you…well, really need it.
According to this Do It Green study, the whole package of a green funeral (which typically uses a biodegradable casket such as wicker) ranges from $2,500 to $4,000. This may seem a lot but when you compare it to the average cost of a traditional burial, which is $7,640, a funeral that uses a wicker coffin is much cheaper.
How Much Is A Wicker Casket?
I’ve seen prices as low as $300 USD, but most are higher. If you purchase a wicker casket, expect a number around $1,650. However, most options fall between $1,100 and $1,800. This will vary depending on the size of the casket, its design, and whether the materials are sourced locally or from overseas.
We review the best place to buy wicker caskets later in the article.
Technical Disclaimer: These estimates have been complied from extensive general price list sampling and regional and national pricing studies, including publicly available data provided by the NFDA. in Valhalla does not imply nor guarantee any caskets will be available from any seller at any of the estimated prices.
Where Can I Buy A Wicker Coffin?
There are three options: the funeral home, online retailers, or local businesses. The latter is unlikely, so we will focus on the first two.
Note: The Funeral Rule states you can purchase caskets from anywhere and your local funeral home must accept the casket without charging an acceptance or delivery fee. The also cannot require you to be present for delivery.
You can check with your funeral provider if they offer wicker caskets. In preparing for a funeral service, usually, the funeral director will give you a General Price List first before showing you the available caskets. Make sure to tell the funeral director that you are specifically interested in a wicker casket, as wicker caskets are not commonly displayed in showrooms.
The best option is to purchase a wicker casket online. When we first published this article in late 2019, we could not find a single retailer in the United States who sold direct to consumers. However, our favorite online casket seller now offers wicker caskets! Really, we recommend Titan Casket for almost all types of caskets.
We like them for many reasons, including great prices, quality products, free shipping, and extremely simple purchasing process.
These products have an option of 6′ 5″ or 5′ 9″ (that’s six feet five inches or five feet nine inches). If you are uncertain which to choose, read our guide to oversized caskets.
Titan Casket’s wicker caskets are suitable for wakes, viewing, cremation. They are certified Fair Trade and eco-friendly (decomposable). Read more about sustainability in their product descriptions.
Buying caskets online ensures that you have a wide variety to choose from. (Read our buyer’s guide to casket prices to compare options.) You can also make sure if they offer 100% natural and biodegradable caskets by checking the product details thoroughly, as well as reviewing the certifications that they have.
For readers in the UK, we recommend you investigate the Coffin Company, a UK-based business with a wide selection of green caskets for both burial and cremation.
Another option for residents of the UK is Sussex Willow Coffins. They create hand crafted eco-friendly coffins and sell wholesale and directly to consumers. Hand woven at a small workshop in the heart of the Sussex countryside, these wicker caskets are certified for cremation (by FFMA) as well as being well suited to natural burial and green funerals.
The Green Burial Council recommends Passage International, Inc. as a certified distributor. Unfortunately, they do not sell directly to consumers. If your local funeral home offers Passage International caskets, it are a great choice.
Wicker Caskets in Green Burial
A green burial honors the idea of decomposition and allowing the body return to nature. That is, “ashes to ashes and dust to dust.”
Green burials are minimalistic, using as few (sustainable) resources as possible. This is in contrast to the conventional burials that make use of highly sophisticated caskets made of expensive wood or precious metals.
Before the 20th century, caskets were usually just plain wooden boxes. Now, they have become fully-manufactured and elaborate caskets made of expensive materials.
The very same cycle that caused individuals to move away from the finality of death—to add pillows, lining, and other decorations to make it looked as if the deceased were sleeping—has looped around as more and more people find the idea of using an expensive coffin for only a short term as wasteful.
Trivia: In 2019, the NFDA conducted a Consumer Awareness and Preferences Study and found that over half (51.6%) of respondents said that they would be interested in “green” funeral options because of their environmental and cost-saving benefits.
Wicker caskets can also be used in cremation. You can learn more about the different types of cremation caskets and why wicker qualifies.
Yes. Wicker caskets are suitable for cremation because it does not have metallic components and they is easily combustible.
Yes. Wicker caskets are generally cheaper because they are made of low-cost materials compared to wooden coffins. Some wooden coffins are from pricey hardwood like oak and mahogany. However, some wooden caskets that are plain like a simple pine box can be just as cheap as a wicker casket.
A wicker coffin is a casket made of woven materials such as bamboo, willow, or seagrass. Though some wicker furniture is also made from cane, reeds, and rattan, these materials are rarely used in coffins.
Yes. You can be buried in a cemetery that allows for natural burial. Most do, but you should take note that all cemeteries will have their own policies. With this, it is best to contact the cemetery operators beforehand.
If you purchase a wicker casket, it’ll probably be about $1,650. Most options fall between $1100 and $1,800. This will vary depending on the size of the casket, its design, and whether the materials are sourced locally or from overseas.
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