British Columbia

'It's the only way to go': Coffin company offering its eco-friendly products at farmers markets

The co-owners of Evergreen Coffin Company say they are making the mid-island market rounds this summer in an effort to not just make sales, but also to help people be more engaged and more in control about their death care.

Markets offer chance to talk to people about importance of death care, Evergreen Coffin Company co-owner says

The Evergreen Coffin Company sells 100 per cent biodegradeable caskets made with a mix of sustainably grown B.C. pine. There are no metals or plastic, plywood or toxic glues used in construction, making them suitable for a green burial. (Facebook/Evergreen Coffin Company)

It's best to purchase products at a farmers market before they expire — and before you expire, you might want to check out Sita and Gavin Then's booth.

The co-owners of Evergreen Coffin Company are making the rounds at markets on Vancouver Island to showcase the eco-friendly wooden coffins they make with B.C. lumber and sell for just over $1,000.

Based in Royston, B.C., Sita Then says travelling to markets is an opportunity to not only make sales, but to talk to the public about the importance of death care — often a taboo subject — and help people take more control of the process for either themselves, or a loved one.

"Really interesting conversations come up," Sita said in an interview on CBC's On The Island. "Super meaningful, very cathartic, and give people a chance to talk about death in general or [a] death in particular."

Sita and Gavin Then are setting up at local Island markets so you can pick up produce, preserves and a simple pine box for ... later. (Facebook/Evergreen Coffin Company)

The coffins are made with a mix of sustainably grown B.C. pine and have no metal or plastic on them. They are held together by glue and untreated hemp rope that serves as handles.

This makes them ideal for people interested in the growing trend of green burials, which do not include the use of any toxic materials. That means the body is not embalmed and must be buried in a vessel that is fully biodegradable.

"It's the only way to go," said Sita with a hint of humour in her voice.

Gavin Then, a carpenter by trade, initially made a coffin for a close friend of the couple after she died. The construction was a community project, with loved ones of the deceased making bedding for its interior and decorating the exterior with farewell messages.

"It brought people together in some pretty wonderful ways," Sita said about that first experience.

She said Evergreen coffins are flat-packed and shipped as kits with easy to assemble pieces, or if you live on Vancouver Island, they can be delivered ready built.

 

If you buy your coffin before it needs to be used, it can double as a counter or bookshelf while you wait.

"Think Ikea," Sita said with a chuckle.

The company also sells biodegradable burial shrouds.

As well as appearing at markets across the mid-Island, Evergreen will also be at the Comox Valley Exhbition on Aug. 28-30.

A casket gets a pre-life as an art desk before it is needed post-life. (Facebook/Evergreen Coffin Company)

To hear the complete interview with Sita Then on On The Island, tap here.

With files from On The Island

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