A wickedly wasteful industry

Peter Leith is 90 but strong of body and opinion – especially when it comes to the funeral industry.

A wickedly wasteful industry

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 sunday@yourlifechoices.com.au and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

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    COMMENTS

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    Star Trekker
    12th Jan 2020
    11:12am
    I'd like a cardboard box, then cremated, and my ashes used as fertiliser for flowers.
    Star Trekker
    12th Jan 2020
    11:13am
    The box is made from recycled paper.
    Nanna75
    12th Jan 2020
    11:48am
    To overcome this problem I'm donating my body to medical science. Not everyone likes the idea of bequesting human parts as in donors or research, but future surgeons need this service and the universities need them. Just register and they'll take care of the rest. You don't need your body after death, your soul has already departed. Once your remains are no longer needed, a "cremation" takes place and a casket is given to your family.
    Circum
    12th Jan 2020
    8:18pm
    Science is very picky who they chose for research.Should you need an autopsy then you are kiched out.
    panos
    12th Jan 2020
    8:24pm
    Then I hope she has a good Doctor to sign a death certificate otherwise off to the morgue you go for the autopsy...

    If mo one claims you paupers burial, hey there's an idea
    tisme
    12th Jan 2020
    12:10pm
    mum refused the cardboard box when she died, she just wanted cremating.
    DINGOPOO
    12th Jan 2020
    12:20pm
    I believe costs could come down a lot if we could rent a beautiful coffin for the service, and be put in a cardboard box when the curtain closes. Would save the forrests too
    panos
    12th Jan 2020
    12:29pm
    Yukky...... secretions galore, you would have to be put in a hermetically sealed body bag... or does the funeral homes just do a hose out..
    panos
    12th Jan 2020
    12:31pm
    Anyway back to the point, the body snatchers can come and take me away to the morgue where just about everyone goes without a treating DR's death certificate, to get cut and gutted. Then off again to the oven and that's it all over red rover.
    panos
    12th Jan 2020
    12:33pm
    The funeral industry is just that, preying on feelings if you spend this amount you wont look like you did not love that person enough etc etc.... One up from a car salesman, banker or prime minister
    Ducky
    12th Jan 2020
    12:33pm
    I'm not having a funeral, just a disposal, family can go to the pub and have a drink or whatever. Much cheaper.
    panos
    12th Jan 2020
    12:34pm
    Sounds great Ducky...
    TREBOR
    12th Jan 2020
    1:48pm
    Yes - my funds are set aside for the wake - with the proviso that any tears will be met with haunting... honour the heroic life he lead - not his death..
    TREBOR
    12th Jan 2020
    1:48pm
    I was the Winner of Survivor - My Family ....
    ronloby
    12th Jan 2020
    12:47pm
    Why waste thousands on a BIG funeral. Just a cardboard box and Cremation will do me.
    Jenny
    12th Jan 2020
    12:59pm
    Of course funerals are a waste. The only advantage of a formal funeral is that we get to meet and greet friends and relatives who we haven't seen for some time, and renew acquaintances. Plus, we get some needed moral support. But the amount of money and resources spent are unnecessary.
    panos
    12th Jan 2020
    1:14pm
    we get to meet and greet friends and relatives who we haven't seen for some time

    There s bloody good reason why we have not seen these people for a long time
    pedro the swift
    12th Jan 2020
    1:02pm
    Cement boots and a burial at sea!
    TREBOR
    12th Jan 2020
    1:46pm
    .. just hire the plane and scatter me ashes out to sea... the world will be the less for my passing ...
    panos
    12th Jan 2020
    1:48pm
    Trebor you might as well pay for a funeral, hiring a plane is expensive as well.

    You could catch a plane in Iran I hear they give free tickets to the other side. LOL
    TREBOR
    12th Jan 2020
    1:49pm
    Hmm - yes.. an hour in a light aircraft... not as much as a funeral and interment...
    Priscilla
    12th Jan 2020
    4:49pm
    All section of the funeral industry need to be called to account for the extravagant, wasteful expenses they impose on families. I intend to be cremated and certainl do not need an ornate box/coffin. Sadly even the bottom of the ladder coffins are too expensive so funerl homes do not miss out! Having said that, plastics are the worst products for the environment and need to be changed NOW!
    Bazza51
    12th Jan 2020
    5:41pm
    Everyone's carrying on like the industry sets the market. It's the other way round, if people didn't want it then there is no market. Some people I guess need all the bullshit, the family mourning, the saying goodbyes etc and some of us don't. But to blame an industry for it is bullshizen.
    Bazza51
    12th Jan 2020
    5:41pm
    Everyone's carrying on like the industry sets the market. It's the other way round, if people didn't want it then there is no market. Some people I guess need all the bullshit, the family mourning, the saying goodbyes etc and some of us don't. But to blame an industry for it is bullshizen.
    panos
    12th Jan 2020
    6:03pm
    Hey Bazza51 are you connected with the industry????

    If, as you say the other way around why are they advertising, white lady funerals etc.

    Have you ever had a visit from a funeral director, the HARD HARD SELL is on and the guilt trip if you don't spend this much for your loved one etc etc etc.... It's pitiful.

    Remember most people have no bloody idea what they are letting themselves in for to remove a body..... and get rid of it....finally
    Rememberance
    12th Jan 2020
    6:07pm
    Having recently organised the funeral for my father I found it not too costly. We used the local church and a simple coffin (as cardboard is the most expensive) then cremated the body. Our family enjoyed an afternoon tea nearby and plan to sprinkle Dad's ashes into the ground at his church. All done within our means. I can't see why anyone would need funeral insurance!
    Rememberance
    12th Jan 2020
    6:07pm
    Having recently organised the funeral for my father I found it not too costly. We used the local church and a simple coffin (as cardboard is the most expensive) then cremated the body. Our family enjoyed an afternoon tea nearby and plan to sprinkle Dad's ashes into the ground at his church. All done within our means. I can't see why anyone would need funeral insurance!
    cat
    12th Jan 2020
    6:20pm
    they prey on the guilt feelings of you being alive when your loved one has died and your grief. My father a truly practical man, when my Mam died when I was 14 was used in such a way. The funeral director showed him a picture of a coffin as if by mistake, and then said being a working man you'll not want that one, here this is a cheaper one. I heard this and at 14 and grieving too couldn't believe that Dad fell for it and said nothing is too good for my wife, and bought the expensive one. he was nearly in tears anyway. And for a cremation! Later in years he took me with him to pre plan his own funeral and picked the cheapest coffin for his cremation. ( which the funeral director being an honest man showed us first) I'm going the same way and told my kids no funeral if they dont' want one. I also have an organ donation card
    Julian
    13th Jan 2020
    8:58am
    'Dear Departed'? I distinctly remember reading her novel titled 'the loved ones' which did exactly that: satirize the funeral industry
    KB
    17th Jan 2020
    11:39am
    I I will be buried naturally with no head stone. There is a company called Natural Funeral Company that allows to be buried or cremated naturally.
    KB
    17th Jan 2020
    11:39am
    I I will be buried naturally with no head stone. There is a company called Natural Funeral Company that allows to be buried or cremated naturally.


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