GREEN CHOICE: Office manager Steve Cooke (left) and business owner Lee Bassett, of South Lismore’s Leaving Lightly, with a selection of cardboard coffins
GREEN CHOICE: Office manager Steve Cooke (left) and business owner Lee Bassett, of South Lismore’s Leaving Lightly, with a selection of cardboard coffins Jacklyn Wagner

Go green with cardboard coffins

SPENDING on funerals fell by more than a quarter last year, even though the number of deaths rose – suggesting families are starting to baulk at the high cost of farewelling loved ones.

This trend would strike fear in many funeral-related businesses, but for Lismore-based Leaving Lightly it dovetails nicely with another trend – environmentalism.

Leaving Lightly owner Lee Bassett said an increasing number of people who have led their lives according to the environmental principle of treading lightly on the earth now want to leave it in the same way.

“Green burials aim to be non-wasteful, returning the body to the earth quickly, leaving little impact on the environment, including needing less fuel in the cremation process,” he said.

Mr Bassett, who has owned and operated businesses in the region for the last 20 years, has established a new funeral business, having already sourced the coffins and opened a warehouse.

His point of difference is that his cardboard coffins, which are more affordable than their timber counterparts, are also more environmentally friendly.

The coffins are made from 100 per cent biodegradable post-consumer waste recycled cardboard and meet all the criteria of the Funeral Directors Association of Australia.

Made in China, the lightweight coffins have extra thick honeycomb corrugated panels which gives it strength to a breaking point of 800kg.

Traditional coffins are made of solid timber or chipboard with a veneer and can cost more than $3000, significantly more expensive than the cardboard variety.

Mr Bassett conceded he had experienced some resistance to his coffins from the big funeral parlours, but added the public have embraced his alternative.

“There is a need there for people to perform their own rituals,” he said. “There used to be a strong Christian belief (about funerals) that people worked within. However, we are multicultural now and people want something different.”

 He said the legacy of the Age of Aquarius also played a role in creating ‘a huge alternative mind space where people want to do their own thing’.

The coffins can come with a timber veneer, or as unadorned cardboard allowing loved ones to decorate the coffin to reflect the deceased’s life.

Such is Mr Bassett’s passion in answering what he believes is an unmet customer demand for alternative funerals, the company is already planning to publish a booklet about performing your own funeral and hopes to expand its retail outlets beyond the Northern Rivers.

Leaving Lightly. By appointment only, call 6622 6121


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