Funeral Directors Adapting to Demand for "Greener" Funerals

Wisconsin Funeral Directors Learn More About Natural Burial and "Green" Pine Caskets by Northwoods Casket Co.

Wisconsin-based Northwoods Casket Co. showcased its eco-friendly pine casket for green burial last month at the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association annual convention and shared information about natural burial and other “greener” choices consumers increasingly want.

Beaver Dam, WI – When funeral directors from across Wisconsin gathered for their annual convention in Elkhart Lake last month, they discussed the rapidly growing requests for greener burial options and how they can use this trend to boost business at a time when the growing popularity of cremation has meant falling revenues for most traditional funeral homes – in part due to a sharp decline in casket sales. 

Simple Pine Casket with Natural Cotton Liner
Funeral directors attending the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association (WFDA) convention also had the opportunity to see and touch a simple pine casket made by Northwoods Casket of Beaver Dam, Wis. Several requested a floor model of the casket – made from pine from the Northwoods of Wisconsin – so it will be among the choices families have. 

“Families increasingly want to reduce their carbon footprint – even after death – and are making biodegradable, sustainably-produced caskets a more popular request,” says Northwoods Casket founder Jonas Zahn. 

Making greener choices available in traditional funeral homes isn’t just good for the planet – it’s good for the funeral industry.  In the past 20 years, funeral profit margins have been cut nearly in half according to the Federated Funeral Directors of America, an accounting firm for independently owned funeral homes.  Consulting firm Citrin Cooperman has found that 44% of funeral home directors blame the increasing popularity of cremations for shrinking profits.

James Olson
“People don't choose cremation because it's green – cremation isn't green by its nature,” says James Olson, international speaker on natural burial for the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) and funeral director with Lippert-Olson Funeral Home in Sheboygan, Wis. Olson led a session outlining opportunities in green and natural burial for the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Association in Elkhart Lake, Wis. last month. “People choose cremation because it's the only alternative we give them to a conventional funeral. If green is what they want, and we offer them a natural burial, this will bridge the gap and may give families what they were truly looking for in the first place.”

The biodegradable caskets made by Northwoods Casket help answer the call for a greener burial. The company sells both caskets and casket kits that include everything a do-it-yourselfer needs to make a casket. In accordance with their mission to leave zero impact on the environment from casket building operations, the company could plant a single tree for every casket to offset the carbon impact from electricity and fuel used.  "Carbon-neutral is not good enough,” adds Zahn, “our commitment to plant 100 trees for every casket we build helps our funeral service providers and families rest assured their choice to use a Northwoods Casket will leave a lasting natural legacy.”  A Presidential sponsor of the WFDA convention, Northwoods Casket displayed a simple pine casket and shared information about casket kits, shrouds, natural burial trundles, natural casket liners and pillows.
Northwoods Casket Kit

About Northwoods Casket Co. - Established in 2010 and based in Beaver Dam, Wis., the company’s mission is to provide funeral homes and families with a simple, affordable, wooden casket purposefully designed for quality and a low environmental impact at an affordable cost. The company has committed to plant 100 trees for every casket built. All products are biodegradable and made in accordance to their founding principle to promote sustainable practices for a smarter planet.