Jute and Other Plant Fibers for Natural Burial

blog2-1Plant fibers create natural fabrics for all kind of uses. The trend to use green products that are simple and sustainable reduces pollution and encourages efficient land and energy use.

The Baby Boomers are comprised of 80 million Americans that will be making end-of-life decisions in the next couple of decades and they seem to be fueling a natural burial trend. Like many things, this is actually a resurgence of practices from an earlier time in history.

Traditional funeral and burial methods inhibit the decomposition process and the funeral industry has made the act of dying into an increasingly commercial and depersonalized event since the mid-19th century.

In a green burial process, a body is not prepared with embalming fluids or other chemicals and can completely decompose and recycle naturally. The body is put in a biodegradable coffin or shroud with no concrete burial vault. These coffins and shrouds can be made from 100 percent jute mixed with natural starch and then compressed to make a strong, easily biodegradable board that resembles wood. They are suitable for cremation and burial for the eco-friendly consumer concerned about the environment.

Coffins can be lined with jute fabric and carried using jute rope handles. Jute products were originally mass produced by a company in Dundee, Scotland and they began providing a variety of funeral products several years ago, including personalized coffins, urns, shrouds, pet coffins, remembrance books, and even jewelry.

blog2-2A shroud can be used for cremation or burial as well. It is a simple piece of cloth to wrap the body made of plant fibers like cotton, linen, flax, or hemp. They are designed to be plain or embellished, natural or in a variety of colors, and affordable; from a plain cotton sheet to custom hand stitched felt.

Some alternative coffins are made from recycled paper and are also 100 percent biodegradable. The style is a plain cardboard look, but it is an inexpensive alternative that helps the environment. An exterior coffin cover, also made of plant fiber materials and more aesthetically pleasing, can be slid over the cardboard temporarily during a funeral event.

Wicker coffins are woven from any one of a variety of flexible materials like willow, bamboo, seagrass, banana leaf, jute, flax or hemp. All of them are quite attractive, biodegradable, and used in either cremation or burial.

Jute and other plant fiber bags are used for carrying an ash casket or ashes that will be scattered. Plant fiber urns can be made of anything from cornstarch to paper. Different plant fibers are blended for cords, tassels, face cloths, pillows linings, and curtains, or decorative braided edging.

In the future, companies are already working on organic, biodegradable burial pods that turn remains into nutrients for a single tree. Without embalming fluid or synthetic ingredients, each body is returned to the earth to compost in a park called a “memory forest” rather than the cemeteries of traditional headstones and vaults of today. Plant fibers are the perfect material to help everyone return to nature gracefully.

Sources and Links:
Beal, C., “Be a Tree; the Natural Burial Guide for Turning Yourself into a Forest”,
Bye-Bye Coffins, These Organic Burial Pods Turn Your Loved Ones Into Trees,
Clarke and Strong, Ash Bags,,
Dundee Heritage Trust, Jute Coffin and Shroud,
Funeral Inspirations website,
Kelbie, P. 2007. ‘Green’ coffins to give Dundee’s jute industry new lease of life,
The Green Man Casket Co. Website,

This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 20th, 2016 at 4:27 pm and is filed under Go Green, Jute, Plant Fiber.

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