Return to Sender is a great name dreamed up for an innovative and award winning eco-coffin company which aims to produce coffins of minimal environmental impact but which are also designed for style and the convenience of mourners gathered around a deceased loved one
The idea for Return to Sender was born when Holdsworth Sustainable Design founder Greg Holdsworth experienced his father-in-law’s death. A lover of woodwork and old wooden boats, Greg’s father-in-law was laid to rest in something he would have deplored.
“I came into the house and he was set up in a coffin made of MDF coated in plastic woodgrain, with plastic handles and synthetic linings. This didn’t reflect his values or his passions during life,” says Greg.
Lighter, fewer toxins
In his final year of a Bachelor of Product Design degree at UNITEC in Auckland, Greg, chose to design an eco-coffin as his project.
The Artisan coffin received two Design Institute of New Zealand awards in 2007 and formed the basis for the Return to Sender business.
Holdsworth Sustainable Design is the creative hothouse for Return to Sender, responsible for Research and Development for the eco-coffin company.
The new Essence coffin is made from plywood and so uses less wood than solid timber coffins, saving trees. It also requires a fraction of the glue needed for MDF coffins, so contains less toxins and, weighing around 20kg, is easy to carry. The coffins come complete with a wool fleece mattress, pillow and biodegradable lining.
Prior to developing the eco-coffin range, Greg co-designed the World Crutch – a low cost medical aid for use in the third world. He also founded Boutique Lodgings of New Zealand – a guide to intimate, quality places to stay in New Zealand.
Holdsworth Design also received the Judges Commendation in the highly competitive Sustainable Design and Innovation Award at the 2008 Northern Sustainable Business Network Awards.
Challenging the norm
In receiving the sustainability award, Holdsworth Design was commended for their "willingness to challenge the norm in an industry whose traditional practices have very deep cultural roots. Not only do their products have aesthetic appeal, making it easier to effect changes to peoples’ perceptions and willingness to adopt a new product, but they have very significant and measurable environmental benefits.”