What Was Santa's Carbon Footprint?
HARRISBURG, Penn. - Santa has come and gone, making Christmas magical for boys and girls around the globe - but what else has he left behind? A big carbon footprint. New research shows St. Nick's operation could be more "eco-friendly" with some fine-tuning.
According to an infographic created by Ethical Ocean, an online marketplace for ethical products and services, Santa's 122-million-mile trip around the world produced more than 69 million metric tons of carbon emissions.
Tony Hancock, president of operations at Ethical Ocean, says that with production, assembly and packaging (and its disposal), the biggest impact comes from all the toys.
"One of our biggest recommendations was for Santa to switch to a recycled-toy-only policy: either re-gifting toys or giving toys made from recycled plastic or other recycled materials."
While Santa's mode of transportation could use an upgrade, Hancock points out that Rudolf and his friends are to blame for more than 40,000 metric tons of carbon emissions.
"We recognize that the sleigh is run on Christmas cheer, but the reindeer actually were emitters of methane, which is 21 times as potent as carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas."
Next year, Hancock asks moms and dads and everyone celebrating Christmas to make a mental note to seriously consider gifts made from recyclable materials, as opposed to adding more new, shiny "stuff."
"If you can avoid buying new products, or at least think about the impact that every product you buy has, we could take things a lot farther on just a personal basis."
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 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.
The Santa Claus exercise is a great way to look at the real environmental impact of just one holiday, Hancock says. He hopes that people can learn from Santa's mistakes and make similar changes in their daily lives.
The infographic is available at http://bit.ly/santagraphic.