According to figures on Holdsworth’s web site, 81 893 380 kg of steel and 2 449 398 kg of copper and bronze are buried each year in US cemeteries.
Holdsworth has looked at toxic and synthetic materials and has thought about how to eliminate them in order to create a more sensitive response. His Return to Sender eco-coffin utilises a minimum of materials, all of which are biodegradable and nontoxic.
He says that in some countries cremations are more popular and the favoured materials for making coffins are medium-density fibreboard with plastic wood-grain (wood veneer for premium products), with plastic handles and plaques with metal plating. When burnt, these materials can release harmful toxins into the atmosphere.
It seems that the demand for more natural burials is on the increase in New Zealand and Holdsworth’s design is filling a void for a diverse range of consumers, be they interested in the eco qualities of the coffin or the mere simplicity of the design and materials.
The Return to Sender eco-coffin won a silver award for sustainable product design at the 2007 BeST Design Awards, supported by the New Zealand Ministry for Environment.