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Eco-coffin designer awarded again

Press Release: Return to Sender
29 August 2008

Return to Sender eco-coffin designer awarded again

Eco-coffin entrepreneur, Greg Holdsworth, has again been awarded for his groundbreaking sustainable design.

Holdsworth received the Judges Commendation in the highly competitive Sustainable Design and Innovation Award for the 2008 Northern Sustainable Business Network Awards last night (28 August 08).

The Sustainable Business Network award follows two Design Institute of New Zealand awards last year. Return to Sender is committed to making coffins with a lower environmental footprint, using natural materials, minimal chemicals or metals. Holdsworth Sustainable Design is the creative hothouse for Return to Sender, responsible for Research and Development for the eco-coffin company.

Return to Sender’s Essence and Artisan coffin designs are both available through all good funeral directors. Further information is available at

2008 Northern Sustainable Business Network Awards
Judges Notes

Judges Commendation: Holdsworth Sustainable Design
Sustainable Design and Innovation

“Holdsworth Sustainable Design is a specialist in sustainable solutions for product development and design manufacturing, transforming ideas into products with innovation and creativity. Holdsworth Design is 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.”


Return to Sender – Background

The idea for Return to Sender was born when 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.

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. Greg determined that the coffin should not only have a minimal environmental impact but also be designed for style and convenience of mourners gathered around a deceased loved one. The Artisan coffin received two Design Institute of New Zealand awards in 2007 and formed the basis for the Return to Sender business. 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.

Return to Sender is Auckland based and supplies Funeral Directors nationwide.
All coffins are supplied ready to use 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.

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