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What's Santa's Carbon Footprint?

December 22, 2011

COLUMBUS, Ohio - It takes a pretty big operation to make toys for children around the globe and deliver them in one night, but new research finds the boots Santa has to fill are leaving a huge carbon footprint.

According to an info-graphic from the group Ethical Ocean, over his 122-million-mile trip around the world, Santa will release more than 69 million metric tons of carbon emissions. Tony Hancock, president of operations for the "green" online marketplace Ethical Ocean, says with the production, assembly, packaging and then disposal, the biggest impact comes from the all the toys.

"One of our biggest recommendations was actually for Santa to switch to a recycled-toy-only policy – either re-gifting toys, or actually using toys that are made from recycled plastic or other materials."

Other ideas to help Santa become "greener" include using solar technology to power his toy workshop and creating a redesigned sleigh that reduces wind resistance and ice build-up.

And while Santa's mode of transportation could use an upgrade, Hancock says it's actually Rudolf and his friends that are to blame for over 40-thousand metric tons of carbon emissions.

"We recognize that the sleigh is actually run on Christmas cheer, but it was the reindeer that were the emitters of methane, which is 21 times as potent as carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas."

Hancock calls the info-graphic "a great look" at the environmental impact of just one holiday. His hope is that we can learn from Santa's mistakes – and make similar, eco-friendly changes in our daily lives.

"If you can avoid buying these new products, or think about the impact of every product you buy, I think we could take things a lot farther, on just a personal basis."

And instead of leaving behind coal for the naughty children, Hancock suggests giving them an alternate form of energy generation, such as a tiny wind turbine or pinwheel, or a piece of locally-grown fruit.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH