The green reaper

• Dominique Fouet and Elaine Dinnigan with one of their willow coffins. Photo by Jenny D’Anger

WANT to out-green your hippy Freo mates and make mayor Brad Pettitt green with envy?

Then make sure you pre-order an eco-friendly coffin.

North Coogee’s Elaine Dinnigan and Dominique Fouet run Farewell by Design, which offers a green alternative to traditional funerals.

Their Australian-designed willow caskets cost around $1200-$1400, and are a cheaper and greener alternative to wooden coffins that are often made from MDF and contain glue, varnish or paint.

The “green” coffins can be used for natural burials in cemetery board-approved forests, traditional cemetery burials or cremations.

They are handmade in China, where willow is a fast-growing renewable crop, and the suppliers only remove the branches and don’t chop down the tree.

Willow degrades rapidly and is carbon neutral, giving off the same amount of carbon it consumes in its lifetime when burnt, Ms Dinnigan says.

The couple also have biodegradable, papier-mâché urns.

Topped with a small container of potting mix to stop the acidic ashes damaging roots, they can be planted with a seed or seedling in a memorial garden.

“Or in a pot so you can take the tree with you when you move,” Mr Fouet says.

For those wanting to scatter ashes in the ocean, there’s a biodegradable box designed to sink within two minutes.

Ms Dinnigan became an end-of-life doula after the trauma of her mother dying, and then having to organise the funeral.

She now helps others organise their funeral plans, advanced health directives, and enduring power of attorney and guardianship.

“When you’re dead, it’s not the time to do the planning,” she quips.

People choosing to die at home and have their funeral there is becoming more popular, and Farewell by Design can do that too.

Mr Fouet, a professional photographer, is on hand to take snaps of the funeral if required.

To find out more go to or call Elaine on 0403 536 171 or Dominique on 0402 540 169.

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