Living legacies



Sustainably produced, biodegradable coffins.
Living Legacies supplies sustainably produced and biodegradable pine and willow coffins. They are untreated, undecorated and unlined so families can decorate them inside and out as they wish – a very therapeutic creative outlet for expressing grief and love.​
Living Legacies caters to the top of the South Island and full funeral clients nationwide. 
For those who take their environmental responsibility seriously, Living Legacies offers a plain untreated pine box coffin. These can be made to measure but not at short notice. So please order in advance for your own peace of mind. They are available only at the top of the South Island and cost $950 plus freight, and only if Living Legacies is not assisting with a full funeral elsewhere at the time. These are a healthy, environmentally responsible alternative to chipboard, rimu, mahogany or MDF. ​

We can also supply:

Coffins from these two companies can be shipped anywhere in New Zealand by conventional freight companies if time allows.

Coffins are made commercially from many different materials, the most common being medium density fibreboard (MDF). Most of the ‘caskets’ sold by funeral directors are made of MDF, even those with a natural timber veneer. Unfortunately, MDF is highly toxic, both in the ground and in cremated particulates in the air. Even the process of making MDF is highly pollutive.

Some of the top funeral director’s range is made from native and imported hardwood timbers such as rimu, mahogany, and oak. Unfortunately, most of it has not been sustainably grown or harvested. These trees are better left standing in the forest providing habitats for wildlife than cut down and turned into coffins that will only be used for a few days, then destroyed!

Beware of greenwashing. There are now “Ecocoffins” becoming increasingly available. Don’t be fooled into believing they are necessarily sustainable or environmentally responsible. Most are imported from China, which is unsustainable, and some unscrupulous traders just use the label to mean “cheap” as in eco-nomical rather than eco-logical! Please check out the details of production, transportation and biodegradability of all the components of a coffin before you buy. (Independently, because not all funeral directors can be trusted to tell the whole truth, unfortunately…)

Alternatively, in most cases, a coffin is optional anyway. A body could technically be buried in a shroud or body bag or just wrapped in a blanket or rug on a solid biodegradable board. However, it has become the socially accepted norm in New Zealand and other countries to use coffins. Eco-friendly coffins should be available from all funeral directors as an economical and sustainable alternative. When they realise there is sufficient demand for eco-friendly coffins, they will supply them. Some are already starting. Please contact your local funeral company and ask for sustainably produced, biodegradable coffins (not MDF) to be available in your town – before you need one!

Please contact Living Legacies for more information about coffins and other resources.