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Sustainability – old traditions, new needs, fresh ideas

Sustainability is at the heart of my business, so I source organic and natural materials as locally as possible. The wood for the base of the Leafcocoon eco coffin is from sustainably managed woodland here in Devon. The toggles are made from hazel wood from nearby hedgerows on Dartmoor. My wool is chosen from local farms that follow organic and welfare friendly principles.  Wool is a natural and renewable fibre: each year tonnes of fleece are shorn from millions of sheep but the wool trade is in decline with the increased use of synthetics. The manufacture of my wool felt has a low environmental impact and when its useful life is over it’s completely biodegradable and makes a good compost ingredient, thereby completing the cycle and returning to the earth.

Where Bellacouche organic wool comes from…

This year (2015/16) I have bought wool from Fernhill Farm, Somerset and will also be buying from  Village Farm, South Devon.  Both these farms have high environmental and welfare standards, and the wool is mainly Shetland and Icelandic, and a Shetland cross.  Village Farm bases it’s principles on Permaculture and practices mob grazing.  This mimics how animals graze in a wild landscape; keeping in a compact flock and moving quickly through the landscape.  Electric fencing is used to keep the flock moving through a 4 month rotational plan, which improves the health of the soil and the animals.  They are also in the process of transforming the farm with extensive planting of native hedgerow species, which will increase diversity and provide extra shelter for the animals.  The farm is being monitored by the RSPB.  This  is farming at its best; mimicking nature whilst providing us with food and fibre; increasing natural diversity and improving the soil.

What is wool felt?

Felt is classed as a non-woven fabric. Simply put, it’s a tangled mass of fibres, traditionally wool, but these days it can be made of more-or-less any fibre, and it has multiple uses. wikipedia.org/wiki/Felt

The two ways of making wool felt are: 1) wet felting; a hand made process requiring the application of moisture and friction to wool to cause the fibres to mat together, and 2) needle felting; either by hand or machine. Special barbed needles are used to tangle the fibres together. The Bellacouche wool felt employs the needle felting method and takes place as locally as possible.

“If you have to make a thing, you must know the background of it, the skeleton, the foundations, the actual stuff that the materials have grown out of, their connections with their natural background, their biotechnics – and then building can begin. And then the reason for making, the purpose, the human connection. All sides must be considered and known. You cannot just make.”

from Hand Weaving and Education by Ethel Mairet (Faber & Faber 1952)

Green Funerals and Sustainability

A woodland or meadow burial site offers the choice of a more individual ceremony and welcomes people irrespective of their beliefs. Burial is an ecologically sound and more sustainable alternative to cremation, which causes atmospheric pollution and involves the use of fossil fuels.

A green burial ground can be a refuge for wildlife and also provides a meeting place in a peaceful setting for the family and friends attending a burial or visiting later.

As the movement towards sustainability grows, there are new green burial sites opening all the time and many councils have also started to provide this service in both urban as well as more rural spaces.

More about Natural Burial and ‘Green’ Funerals