Eco-Friendly End-of-Life Choices: Passages International's Commitment to Fair Trade Values



In the heart of Verona, New Jersey, Prout Funeral Home has long been a trusted name in funeral services. Julia Prout, Funeral Director at Prout Funeral Home, recently had the opportunity to sit down with Darren Crouch, the owner and founder of Passages International, during the National Funeral Directors Association Convention and Expo in Las Vegas. They discussed the inspiration behind Passages and its mission to revolutionize the funeral industry by offering sustainable, eco-friendly, and dignified options.

A Marriage That Changed the Game

Darren Crouch's journey into the funeral industry was a unique one. He candidly admits that he can't take full credit for Passages. In fact, his entry into the field was through marriage, as he married the daughter of a local funeral director. This familial connection led to a close partnership with his brother-in-law, a licensed funeral director, who noticed a significant shift in the industry. More and more people were choosing cremation over burial, and scattering of ashes was becoming increasingly popular.

However, there was a problem. The urns available did not resonate with families, leaving funeral directors with no choice but to provide cardboard boxes for cremated remains. Darren and his brother-in-law recognized a need for a better solution: one that was not only eco-friendly and sustainable but also dignified and affordable.

The Birth of Passages

The impetus behind Passages International was born out of this industry problem. They set out to design products that met these criteria, and in 1999, they unveiled their creations at the industry's first convention in Kansas City. The response from funeral directors was overwhelming - they saw the potential to offer these products as biodegradable options, aligning with the growing demand for eco-conscious funeral choices.

Passages' commitment to sustainability led to the introduction of caskets made from willow, seagrass, and bamboo about 15 to 16 years ago. These caskets not only embraced sustainability but also offered a natural, handmade touch that resonated with families seeking more environmentally responsible options for their loved ones' funerals.

A Closer Look at Passages Products

The conversation also delved into Passages' product range. One of the original solutions, the Earthurn, was crafted from mulberry tree bark, which naturally exfoliates and biodegrades when buried. Passages also designed scattering tubes, making it easy for families to scatter ashes in a meaningful way.

For those who opt for burial instead of cremation, Passages offers caskets made from willow, seagrass, and bamboo. These materials grow quickly, do not require toxic chemicals, and decompose naturally, leaving a minimal carbon footprint.

Darren stressed the importance of fair trade principles in their production process, promoting economic opportunities and social consciousness. These values align with consumers who want their end-of-life choices to reflect their core values, especially those related to sustainability and ethical practices.

Embracing Sustainable End-of-Life Choices

The conversation concluded with Julia expressing her appreciation for Passages International's sustainable ethos. She highlighted how consumers are increasingly adopting sustainable practices in their lives, and this extends to their end-of-life decisions. Families want their loved one's final journey to mirror the values they upheld in life.

Julia and Darren's discussion shed light on the importance of offering sustainable options in the funeral industry. Passages International's dedication to eco-conscious choices not only benefits the environment but also allows families to celebrate their loved ones' lives in a way that aligns with their values.


In conclusion, Prout Funeral Home and Passages International have collaborated for many years, providing families with sustainable and dignified options. If you're a funeral director looking to offer more eco-friendly choices to your clients, consider reaching out to Darren and his team at Passages International. Their innovative and compassionate approach can help you cater to families seeking meaningful and sustainable end-of-life solutions.


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All summer long folks ask us about our vibrant red Cannas – they are easy to grow, deer-resistant, attract Hummingbirds and create a tropical look! If you would like to try your hand at growing these great plants, here are some tips:


When to Plant:

In New Jersey, it’s best to plant the rhizomes (the bulbs) in late spring/ early summer when the soil is at least 60F.


How to Plant:

  1. Dig a hole about four inches deep in the soil.
  2. Set the rhizome eyes up in the hole.
  3. Cover with soil.
  4. Tamp down.
  5. Water thoroughly.

Space the rhizomes one to four feet apart.


Where to Plant:

Cannas thrive in areas that get full sun or partial shade. To really thrive they need at least four hours of direct sunlight a day, ideally from the morning or afternoon sun.


How to Water:

These plants don’t require much water until they begin to sprout, then they should be watered at least once a week, soaking the area around the roots. In the height of summer, they need plenty of water every other day.


End of Season Storage:

If you wish to replant the rhizomes next season, dig them up after the first “killing frost.” Shake off excess dirt and place them in a plastic bag (i.e. black garbage bag) with air holes and peat moss and store them in a dry place such as a basement or attached garage.


If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Bob at (973) 239-2060.