Mark Playing Banjo

Dying with the Earth in Mind: A Dancing Rabbit Announcement

The Center for Sustainable and Cooperative Culture at Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage would like to announce the availability of affordable, upcycled, eco-friendly burial caskets, in partnership with longtime extended community member Mark Mazziotti. 

It’s an alternative to expensive and lavishly ornamented coffins,” said Mark, a natural builder and resident of Red Earth Farms (REF), the homesteading community adjacent to DR, founded by former Rabbits. “It’s a shelving unit. It’s a coffee table. It’s a memento mori.

Mazziotti designs and hand-builds these caskets to be multi-functional in an effort to provide maximum value to the purchaser of the casket, which are available through CSCC starting for $897 (includes free shipping)

I’ve always been fascinated with death,” Mazziotti said. “The way it’s handled in different cultures. Some elegant. Some stifled. Among my most cherished experiences living in this community were the times we buried our own.” 

Inspired by architect Alfred Von Bachmayr, who invented the pallet wood truss in an effort to construct low-income housing in the El Paso/Juarez area on the Mexican border, Mazziotti’s first upcycling effort with pallet wood – a cheap, ubiquitous waste-stream resource – was done using Von Bachmayr’s truss to support the roof of his own home at REF. 

Nothing gives me more joy than to find a good use for something I’ve been saving,” Mazziotti said. “It’s almost an obsession. As if when I draw my last breath, everything I own will have been assigned to its highest purpose.

Mazziotti’s Buddhist practice combined with his experiences helping to bury members of DR led him to an exploration of how to make more dignified, eco-conscious burial options widely available. After years of working out the design and building process for an elegant, yet affordable casket, the final piece of the puzzle for the ‘premium design’ came from a traditional wood-finishing practice from the Far East. 

The aesthetic was still lacking something,” Mazziotti said of the look of his constructed pallet wood casket. “Pallet wood is inherently inconsistent. It’s scratched and dinged and made from various species of wood. The final touch was a Japanese charring technique called yakisugi. Nothing like the element of fire to tie things together.

CSCC’s mission is to catalyze a more resilient and sustainable world, and we believe that partnering with Mark to sell this line of eco-caskets helps to do exactly that by using upcycled materials to provide customers with an affordable and eco-friendly burial option. “Most people don’t even know there are alternatives to traditional caskets; and I think most funeral homes like it that way,” said CSCC Executive Director Danielle Williams, “but why not make sure that the choices you can make to prepare for your death match your values as much as the choices in your life did? And if it’s easier on your wallet AND the planet, that’s when we know we’re going in the right direction.” 

Have you ever questioned the high expense, toxicity, or lack of biodegradability that comes with a traditional casket? Keep in mind that there are other options. These pallet wood caskets are one way to honor your loved one in something beautiful and hand-made, while changing the destructive status quo and saving money. 

We hope you’ll consider joining us in bringing the sustainable revolution to end-of-life choices.

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