Provincial press releases

A Fair way to go

As a Church with Fair Trade status, our parishioners are well used to ethically produced cups of tea and coffee and bars of chocolate. But what about coffins? To mark Fairtrade Fortnight, Spencer Wanstall of Ecoffins explains how we can carry our principles to the grave.
Our awareness of environmental and Fairtrade issues, through the media and programmes such as Blue Planet, has made people more consciously aware of the materials they are consuming and the origins of products they use.

This extends to the choices also made when it comes to the end of their lives. A whole generation born after the war that wanted change, to be recognised as individuals, that advocated natural child birth and first highlighted the impact humans are having on the planet, are getting older. They are fuelling the positive change that is bringing sustainable and ethical funerals into the mainstream and making them every day.

Ecoffins are widely accepted as the organisation which introduced the woven coffin to the funeral profession. Our coffins are made of a variety of different materials including bamboo, banana, willow, pandanus, pine and cardboard. The materials are chosen for their highly sustainable and renewable attributes. They use fast growing, annually harvested natural materials which are woven close to where they are grown.

We are committed to producing coffins in the most ethical way possible so our manufacturers in Indonesia and China are only in workshops certified by the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO). We are a Guaranteed Member of the WFTO and the first UK company to be granted Fair Trade status in China. We employ Chinese craftspeople in the remote and disadvantaged region of Hunan Province. Through attaining Fair Trade accreditation the workshops have been able to transform the livelihoods of local people and benefit the community that helped to start producing their first bamboo coffins more than 20 years ago.  In Indonesia too we have developed co-operative relationships with other WFTO members, buying their products since 2008. We have contributed towards projects in the area to help them increase their production capabilities and access to markets, as well as the continuous improvement of working conditions and livelihoods.

We hope that more sustainable and ethical funeral processes will mean all of us can play a part in leaving a lasting eco legacy and a better future for the next generation.

Find out more about Fairtrade Fortnight and Ecoffins