Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Alternative Funeral Options

I know this sounds a little bit on the gruesome side, but I just ran across a new 100% environmentally friendly coffin sold by a company called Ecopods. They are made out of 100% recycled paper, and the design was inspired from the shape of a seed pod, and the shape of Egyptian coffins. They come in red, green, blue and gold leaf, and have the option of silk-screened designs on the lid. It seems like a perfect fit for us granola eating, recycling happy, environmentally active Northwesterners.

The pods were designed by Hazel Selina who worked for years as a mid-wife helping people bring new life onto the planet. As she began to age and saw her family grow older her attention turned to death. A close friend she was caring for was dying, and that started her thinking about funerals and coffins in particular.

I know my parents have been dealing with aging family and friends reaching this point, and it's not a fun thing to think about. There is a growing trend among people who were the pioneers in leaving a light footprint on the earth through recycling, natural foods, and green practices, to start looking at alternatives when it comes to the end of their lives. The flower children of the sixties are now becoming the caretakers of the 00's, and the baby boomers are starting to face the reality of their own mortality.

As a result, this demographic is taking a more active role in deciding how they want their lives and deaths celebrated when it's time to go. There is a growing trend for party planners specializing in funerals, or as they like to call it "life events." It makes sense. There are as many details that go into planning a funeral, or wake, or whatever type of service one chooses to have, as there are in planning a wedding. One guy in Massachusetts who drove an ice cream truck all his life, had an ice cream truck at his gravesite serving the mourners. People have had marching bands, Native American Rituals, and recently one woman chose to be mummified so her spirit could get used to the adjustment before she was reincarnated. Many people are choosing to be cremated, or buried in alternative sites such as wooded areas where a tree is planted next to their grave as a marker.

The Ecopods are only available in the UK, but it seems like some smart entrepreneur in the Northwest might want to jump on this and create their own product in the states. I think they're a cool idea. Her website is http://ecopod.co.uk/.

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