Severe economic crisis leads to the arrival of heavy duty cardboard coffins in Venezuela
An austere send-off: cardboard coffins, though hailed as an environmentally-friendly alternative in Europe and the US, have become the norm in Venezuela. Alejandro Blanchard’s and Elio Angulo’s examples – though waterproof and robust – are more austere looking than Winston Link’s image (via Shutterstock).
In Venezuela, the introduction of cardboard coffins seems to be an environmental measure at face value. In the UK, Mainland Europe, and the United States, it has been. For Venezuela, it is anything but that possibility.
Cardboard coffins have become a necessity in Venezuela. In the economically-depressed South American country, the price of a wooden coffin is 280,000 bolivars (£21,209.99). The figure is twelve times the amount of the Venezuelan minimum wage of 23,333.33 bolivars (£1,767.50). The price of a wooden coffin in Caracas is pretty steep, compared with the price of a basic funeral in Compstall.
In 2011, Alejandro Blanchard and Elio Angulo created a solution: cardboard coffins that were biodegradable and waterproof. With Venezuelan coffin production hampered by a shortage of brass, varnish and satin, the 65,000 bolivars (£4,923.75) biocofres offer a viable – though utilitarian – alternative.
Alejandro Blanchard said, “Death impoverishes the masses. It’s a cost that people have to take on and they are never prepared for it. And the way things are right now (in Venezuela), when you have to take it on, you find it is very expensive because funeral services are very expensive.
“So the biocofre, which has the benefit of being ecological, is a pretty good solution to what is going on in Venezuela right now.”
He also extolled its environmental credentials: “We focus on the preservation of conservation of the environment. In order to build a conventional coffin, three trees are cut down while only one tree is cut down to make 100 biocofres. More than 70% of the raw material of a biocofre is recycled,”
The fortunes of the average Venezuelan is unlikely to improve at this time of writing. According to the Wall Street Journal, Inflation is forecasted to reach 1,600% next year. We dread to see how less affordable Blanchard’s cardboard coffins will be in 2017.