December 5, 2008

Canadian undertaker offers ‘green’ caskets

A Canadian undertaker says he's been ostracized by his peers for offering cardboard and other environmentally friendly caskets to customers in London, Ontario.

Dan Atkinson opened Ontario Cremation Services several months ago with a goal of concentrating on environmentally friendly containers for the deceased. They have been available since the 1970s, but most undertakers don't promote them, he told the London Free Press.

I was ostracized by my peers, because no one had ever offered to put human remains in a cardboard box, he said. Most people are not aware they have a choice.

The cheapest cardboard casket costs $180, and can be used for burial or cremation in services that total $2,000, he said. Traditional funeral homes using wooden caskets charge about $10,000, he said.

Atkinson said the next step up from cardboard is a simple wood container made of poplar with organic glue and wooden dowels. For those choosing cremation, he said he also offers less expensive biodegradable urns made of wheat and plant gel rather than traditional brass, metal or marble.