Funeral Industry Adapting to Customer Demand for “Greener” Options

Wisconsin funeral directors to learn more about natural burial, green caskets

Elkhart Lake, Wis. – When funeral directors from across Wisconsin gather for their annual convention next week they’ll hear about natural burial and how they can use it to boost business at a time when the growing popularity of cremation has meant falling revenues for most traditional funeral homes – in part because cremation has reduced demand for caskets.

Funeral directors attending the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association convention will also have the opportunity to see, touch – and even assemble – a simple Wisconsin pine casket made by Northwoods Casket Co. of Beaver Dam, Wis. Consumers seeking to reduce their carbon footprint – even after death – are making biodegradable, chemical-free caskets a more popular option.  

“An increase in cremation and other less traditional options have reduced revenue for the funeral industry by almost half over the past 20 years,” says Jim Olson, an expert in natural burial and funeral director with Lippert-Olson Funeral Home in Sheboygan, Wis. Olson will lead the session on green and natural burial.

“Consumers are looking for more natural options and if we don’t offer them, they’ll find them on their own,” Olson says. “As an industry, it’s our responsibility to let people know there are options out there – many which are actually ‘greener’ than cremation.”

The simple pine caskets made by Northwoods Casket are part of this trend. The company sells caskets and casket kits including everything a do-it-yourselfer needs to make a casket. A Presidential sponsor of the convention, Northwoods will be displaying their caskets, kits, and natural casket liners and educating funeral directors about their products.

Jonas Zahn founder of Northwoods Casket Co. started researching natural burial after building his first pine casket for his grandfather when he died. 

“As the choices for people in who are interested in a “greener” burial expand, so do the questions,” says Jonas. “The answers are out there and we in the industry must help consumers understand they do have choices.”

Established in 2010, Northwoods’ founding principle is to promote sustainable practices for a smarter planet. The company provides customers with a simple, affordable, wooden casket purposefully designed for quality, low cost, and the choice to simple, do-it-yourself assembly: assembled caskets cost $999 and kits are $679.