The Bottom Line Six Feet Under

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Good Magazine has found a way to neatly wrap up the absurdity of funeral costs into a great little YouTube video. Really. I recommend you watch minus the sound. There is something somewhat creepy about death stats accompanied by music. The figures on the other hand are informative and fairly astonishing. I mean, it’s definitely not news that the funeral industry is a boon to certain markets. There’s cosmetics, casketry (I’m sure that’s not a word), and of course real estate. The average funeral costs $6,500 in the U.S. No wonder I vaguely remember hearing relatives complaining about money at, well, all the funerals for each of my grandparents. And that cost doesn’t even include the plot of land for burial. But don’t despair: While apartment hunting, you can pick up a burial plot for $1,000 on Craigslist. We happen to not be the most out of control funeral industry. An average funeral in Japan costs $45,000, which is why nearly 98 percent of its citizens opt for cremation.

Good also reminds us that death can be bad for the environment. Cremation adds to global warming and the formaldehyde leached into the ground water from burials is not so great for Mother Earth either. There are other options though. You could be buried in a forest or in an eco-friendly cardboard coffin (like the Aussies), have your ash turned into 250 pencils (like the Japanese), or if cost is not your issue, spend $12,500 and be left on the moon.

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2020 demands.

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