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Eco-Friendly Coffins: Reducing Bereavement's Burden

booth 4700

Project #: 05-4700


South Africa

Working for Water

Alliance of Religions and Conservation



Link Reports:

123, 4



Project Description
To use invasive alien wood to manufacture low-cost, culturally and socially acceptable coffins, thereby lowering the exorbitant cost of funerals to the bereaved while creating more jobs.
South Africa ’s Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act has declared a total of 198 species of woody, herbaceous and aquatic alien flora that are having a detrimental effect on various ecosystems within the country to be invasive. Since it is virtually impossible to eradicate them, it is vital to seek ways to bring these species under control. At the same time, the cost of funerals has rocketed, with social and cultural customs placing increasing pressure on the bereaved to provide exorbitant funerals that are often unaffordable for the poor. Funeral homes charge high prices for new coffins, and belittle the dignity of simple funerals, impoverishing the bereaved.
Innovation / Expected Results 

This project proposes an innovative solution to convert a major environmental problem into an opportunity. Using the invasive alien wood to manufacture coffins, even if only for the period necessary to bring them under control (likely to be decades), will create employment, and income generated from sale of the coffins will reduce the cost of clearing alien species. The project team will partner with faith-based organizations to ensure that while covering production costs, the coffins are more affordable than current products available on the market, and culturally acceptable. The project expects to manufacture 100 coffins per month, which will be sold for approximately US$60 (15 percent less than current prices).



Project Manager



Guy Preston

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