A wickedly wasteful industry

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Peter Leith is 90 and describes himself as ‘half-deaf and half-blind’, but when it comes to opinion he has the vigor of an opinionated 30-year-old. Waste is a pet hate.


In 1960, Vance Packard wrote a book titled The Waste Makers. It dealt with “the rising tide of consumerism” and how much waste this was generating. Since 1960, the tide of waste has reached tsunami proportions and continues to grow.

My concern is with a wasteful industry that existed long before 1960 and thrives to this day – the funeral industry.

Everything about it is wasteful.

It starts with the absurd presumption that everyone becomes more precious when they die.

While urban sprawl is bemoaned, large tracts of incalculably valuable land are set aside for the sole purpose of interring human remains.

Trees are felled for the sole purpose of making expensive coffins only to rot away in the ground with their contents or burn in crematorium furnaces.

Still not satisfied with its wastefulness, the funeral industry then seeks to make and sell ornate, expensive, carved marble tombstones in a belated effort to provide some degree of ‘immortality’.

It is no surprise that Evelyn Waugh’s satire on the funeral industry is titled The Loved One.

What is your view on the funeral industry? Do you believe much of it is a waste of valuable resources?

Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to [email protected] and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

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Written by Peter Leith


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