Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Doing Our Bit To Change The Funeral Industry

Recently we received an order for a Traditional shaped Seagrass coffin. The Seagrass coffin is one of our most popular products, and personally, I think it is one of the most attractive coffins we offer.

As is usually the case, the coffin was being dispatched to a funeral directors and so we rang to arrange the delivery. We could just dispatch the order, but we always like to double check the address, and to discuss when is the best time for them for delivery. It's a courtesy thing as much as anything, and we have built excellent relationships with companies all over the country.

However this funeral director who answered the phone seemed particularly blunt. I explained who Caring Coffins are, and that we had an order to be delivered. It was then he started questioning what we do as a company:

'So you supply the public, but that means we're not making as much money'

I explained that we sell green coffins, and therefore we our customers a greater range than traditional funeral directors. We are often cheaper than funeral directors, but we price our coffins at a level that we think is fair and not exploitative and profiteering. Apparently this particular funeral director thought that this was unfair of us. 

'Why do you think you can do this, this isn't how the industry works'

I explained that we are only offering an alternative. If we were too expensive people wouldn't use us. 

However since we launched, we have grown and grown. To me that says we are offering an alternative that people want. The day funeral directors start charging fair prices is the day people will stop using Caring Coffins. And honestly, we wouldn't mind too much. We started our company to change how Britain pays for death, and we would have achieved this. Until then, we will still be here, as an option for people to use.

This particular funeral director promised:

'You won't here the last of this, we won't stand for this'.

And that's fine. We are here to change things.

Alex Wilcox
Alex Wilcox is Founder of Caring Coffins

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Roger-Lloyd Pack - Trigger Opts for a Green Coffin

Only Fools and Horses Actor

A few weeks ago, we noticed that the coffin on one of the most watched TV moments of the year (Hayley Cropper from Coronation Street's funeral) featured a eco-friendly, biodegradable coffin. 

Today, one of the nation's favourite actors was laid to rest, and opted for a funeral that was out-of-the ordinary. 

Playing the lovable, but often confused Trigger on the BBC's Only Fools and Horses, Roger Lloyd-Pack was known to millions, and recently sadly lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. 

He arrived at the church in Covent Garden in a pink hearse, in a light willow, wicker coffin. Caring Coffins' goal has always been to help people organise the funeral they want, and we were glad that Lloyd-Pack was able to build this individualtity into his funeral. 

Our thoughts are of course with his family. He has left a truly memorable legacy.

RIP Roger 'Trigger' Lloyd-Pack

Alex Wilcox
Alex Wilcox is Founder of Caring Coffins

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Hayley Cropper Funeral - An Eco-Friendly Coronation Street Burial

Hayley Cropper's Coronation Street Funeral

An Eco-Friendly Soap Burial

I'm not an avid viewer (if anything I actively try and avoid it) but sometimes you just can't avoid Coronation... 

Normally I'm pretty successfully at blocking out the love affairs, the dramatic deaths, and pre-watershed, profanity-free arguments. However the other night Coronation Street was on and there was no escaping it. And this story line has been the focus of much media attention.

Hayley Cropper made waves when she became the first transgender character is UK soap history, and in her death she also sparked debate. As mentioned, I'm not a big fan of soaps in general, but I do think they stimulate conversation on divisive subjects. In the case of Hayley, that subject was assisted suicide.

Over 9.7 million people tuned in to watch her final episode, and the critical and political reviews have been glowing. However it wasn't her life story, her gender status, or the manner of her death that caught my attention, it was her funeral.

Having an interest and involvement in coffins and funerals, I am always keen to see how the media portrays them, versus my experience of the reality. Most TV programs go for a funeral-by-numbers approach of the mourners in black, somber hymns, and a dark wooden coffin. However Hayley's funeral was a much more humanist affair. There was no vicar, no mention of God, the mourners wore colourful outfits, and the coffin was environmentally-friendly.

The fact that she chose a cardboard coffin, and it barely even registers as being out-of-the-ordinary shows how far Britain has come in accepting green funerals. It is no longer the preserve of eco-warriors and alternative types. People now realise how beautiful, dignified, and caring a green coffin can be.

Before her death Hayley had a wish for her burial that was really quite poetic. You know, maybe soaps aren't so bad after all.

“She wanted to melt back into the earth she said, be recycled by nature”


Alex Wilcox
Alex Wilcox is Founder of Caring Coffins

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Happy Christmas from Caring Coffins

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Caring Coffins

All of us at Caring Coffins would like to wish everyone a great Christmas and New Year. 

Thanks to all our friends and customers, and we hope you have a wonderful festive break. We will be running limited deliveries over the Xmas period, but will be back to usual from January 2nd.

We have already saved the British public thousands of pounds on funeral costs, and we hope to continue to grow in 2014. As more people learn you don't need to buy coffins from funeral directors, more people can save. We hope to expand our product range next year, and to offer more greater choice to our customers.

But until then, we hope you all have a relaxing Christmas, and here's to a great next year!


Alex Wilcox

Friday, 6 December 2013

Why Should I Choose An Green, Eco-Friendly Burial?

Why Should I Choose An Green Burial?

The advantage and disadvantages of an eco-friendly green funeral

Before I start this, I want to make something clear. I am not a die-hard eco-warrior. I drive a car, I don't grow my own vegetables, I eat meat (in fact I ADORE meat) and I'm probably not as eco-friendly as I could be.

However, I am aware of 'the green issue' and of the environment, and I do try to make choices in my day to day life that help the planet. This is a simple as walking rather than driving now and again, trying to recycle, and making an effort to try and use eco-friendly companies.

The various religions of the world have different versions of what happens when we die, but the majority agree that our planet is a precious thing that needs preserving. It is a limited resource that can't be exploited forever without consequences.

If we were all to make a small change though, it would literally change the world. It's easy to say 'Even if i do change, it won't matter, it's China and India's fault!' but then nothing will change. When it comes to global warming, and saving the planet, individuals can make a difference.

A decision that I have made is on that effects me after I have died, the decision to have a green funeral. To me, this is an incredibly easy choice, that has a minimal impact on my life, whilst the benefits to the planet are huge.

Personally, the idea of cutting down a tree that has taken years to grow, so it can be used to make a coffin that is then either cremated or buried is madness. The alternative is a green, eco coffin. Typically made from fast growing plants such as willow or bamboo, they offer a fantastic alternative to hard wood coffins. As these materials grow so quickly (Bamboo can grow nearly one metre in just 24 hours!) they are far more sustainable than traditional coffin materials. Certain plants such as Abaca also have the benefit of absorbing more carbon dioxide than it emits. This is why my company Caring Coffins supplies eco friendly coffins.

Whilst still not mainstream in the UK, green funerals are growing in popularity and in other parts of the world are now mainstream. One of the main benefits of an environmentally friendly funeral is the cost. As the materials used are sustainable, they are also significantly cheaper. A bamboo coffins can be bought for £350 (a typical example can be found here), whilst a traditional coffin is easily in excess of a thousand pounds. Personally, I prefer the look of an eco coffin as well. Bamboo and willow make truly beautiful coffins. The more natural, homespun aesthetic seems more fitting for a coffin.

Whilst a green burial isn't for everyone, it is a viable option that people should be aware of. It isn't for die-hard 'tree huggers' but is something that should be considered by anyone who wants to leave the planet in good condition for future generations. 

Alex Wilcox
Alex Wilcox is Founder of Caring Coffins

Sunday, 17 November 2013

What To Do When Someone Dies - A Practical Guide

What do I do when someone dies?

When someone close dies there it is incredibly difficult to know what to do first. Grieving is a crucial part of the process, but the there are often practical considerations that need to be thought about. Our simple list helps you work out what to do after someone dies.

The following documents and details will be needed during at some point and so finding these out as soon as possible will make things far easier:

  •    Details of next of kin
  •    The deceased's birth certificate
  •    The deceased's National Insurance & NHS Number
  •    The deceased's Passport & Driving License
  •    The deceased's Tax Reference Number
  •    Detail of any religious beliefs held (for funeral plans)
  •    The deceased's Will (if one was made)
  •    Details of the deceased's pension (if they had one)

There are a number of legal requirements following a death in the UK that need to be fulfilled.

Immediate Steps Following A Death

  • Medical Certificate - You will need to get a medical certificate (usually from the doctor or GP at the hospital) in order to register the death.
  • Register the death - Within 5 days of the death, you must register a death with the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths for the district where the death occurred. Once the death has been registered you will get all of the documents you need for the funeral. 

If the death is referred to a coroner the 5 day timescale will be extended.
A really helpful link for answering questions you may have about registering a death can be found here

       Next Steps After A Death

One of the important things after a death is to not take on too much yourself. Don't be afraid to ask friend and family for help. You will need time to grieve, and between living your own life and organising a funeral, there won't be much spare time.

Organising the Funeral

One of the first things to check is if the deceased had a funeral plan set up (this will often be specified in the will). If they do, great, this should make things much easier. If not, you will need to think about the style of funeral, the budget, and the location. Be sure to shop around, and speak to different funeral directors, as the first one may not be able to deliver the funeral you want, and there may be cheaper alternatives. There is also the option to reduce costs by providing things yourself, rather than through the funeral director. You are able to provide your own flowers, transportation, and the coffin which can help reduce costs.

Organisations To Contact

  •     HMRC - For tax and benefit purposes
  •     DVLA - To cancel driving license
  •     Passport Office - To cancel passport
  •     Banks - For mortgage, pension, and insurance details
  •     Utility companies - Gas, water, electricity, newspaper deliveries, milkmen

  •     'Tell Us Once' - This is an incredibly useful service used by the majority of local councils. This means you fill out one form, and it reports the death to most government organisation (including HMRC, DWP, DVLA, Passport Office & the local council). The link to see if your local council participates is

Alex Wilcox
Alex Wilcox is Founder of Caring Coffins

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Practical Ways To Reduce Funeral Costs

How can I plan a cheaper funeral?

A funeral is an incredibly tough, emotional event to arrange, and costs can quickly escalate and get out of hand.  We have heard from many people who have borrowed money to cover the costs, money they could not afford. However, there are a few simple tricks than can dramatically reduce UK funeral costs.

The main thing to remember is that trying to reduce costs IN NO way means you care less about the deceased. ‘If you don’t spend a lot, this is a slight to the person’s memory’ is a message some areas of the funeral trade actively push in order to encourage people to spend more. This is an incredibly immoral practice and is so far from the truth. I’m positive if I was organising a funeral for someone close that has recently passed away, they would much rather I spent what I could afford and saved money where possible. It's important to decide on a budget and stick to it!

So how can the UK public look to reduce the costs involved in a funeral? Here are a few practical ways:

Shop Around

How many of us would buy the first car we saw? Or book the first holiday, without shopping around, or reading reviews? But that’s precisely what so many people do when organising a funeral.

We appreciate when someone close has passed away, most people won’t be thinking logically, and will want someone who will organise everything with as little input from them as possible.

However it is worth ringing a handful of funeral directors, and asking for basic costs of the elements for the funeral you want. Personal experience is also incredibly important as a bad funeral director can make an already difficult experience far worse. Spending an hour or two doing these simple things can make the whole process so much more comfortable, and can save literally thousands of pounds.

Arrange what can you yourself

From the cars, to the flowers, to the book of memorial, these are all things the funeral director can supply you with, but they will be adding a mark up to the price. So why not arrange and supply these yourself. You’d be surprised how much can be saved by asking the florist to provide flowers rather than the funeral home. Or even better, buy the flowers and do the arrangements yourself. Again, there is a pressure for overly-complicated expensive decorations that are used for a few hours. A simple, timeless design can be just a beautiful, and can significantly reduce costs.

Go green

Eco-friendly funerals are becoming more and more popular nowadays as we become more aware of the environment.  The majority of funeral directors will have a green funeral option, and these are often significantly cheaper than a traditional service. People are always surprised at how pleasant and sympathetic eco-friendly funerals are, and they are the most sustainable option.

Plan the funeral during the week

Yes, we know a weekend funeral is more convenient, but choosing a weekday can prove significantly cheaper. Anything you are hiring for the funeral, such as a location for a wake, or the cars will be cheaper if you avoid the weekend.

Source the coffin or casket yourself

This is one of the easiest ways to save money when planning a funeral. Legally you can provide the coffin for a funeral yourself; you do not need to buy it from the funeral home. This can literally save thousands of pounds, such is the mark-up applied by funeral directors. There are a number of suppliers that will ship a coffin direct to your home or to the funeral directors. Caring Coffins sell coffins from just £350 which includes next day delivery. The average cost for a UK coffin is well in excess of £1,000, and so the savings can be significant.

Coffins are one of the main costs of the funeral. Be careful to avoid some of the lower-quality ones for sale, by using a trusted company, and your funeral costs can be dramatically reduced.

Alex Wilcox

Alex Wilcox is Founder of Caring Coffins