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To Die For: Rolls-Royce and 'green' Coffins at British Funerals

rising popularity of non-traditional funerals, especially those with environmental components," said a spokesman for market researchers Mintel, adding that 63 percent are in favour of green coffins and 64 percent support green funerals.

According to the Natural Death Centre in London, which helps people planning green funerals, the number of environmentally-friendly cemeteries has doubled to 223 since 2000. At such cemeteries, gravestones are replaced by plants or burial in a forest. Nearly 9,000 people are buried in this way every year, a figure which should top 20,000 by 2010, Mike Jarvis, the centre's director, said. He added that about 4,000 people a week choose a biodegradable coffin.

There is a good choice of such caskets in Britain -- one firm, Eco Coffins, offers ones made up of 90 percent recycled cardboard, while Bamboo Coffins sells woven bamboo caskets. In 2006, Ecopod sold around 500 of its creations, made from 100 percent reinforced recycled paper.

Founder Hazel Selina said annual sales were rising by 10 percent a year and that the company planned to expand in the US, Canada and Europe at the end of the year. Recycled coffins have the advantage of being light. Of the 600,000 funerals in Britain each year, 75 percent feature cremations and 25 percent burials. And now even funeral urns are going "green" -- for example, Ecopod say their urn in the shape of an acorn is selling by the thousands.


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