Christmas is fast approaching, and soon Santa will have to work the hardest day of his year, but does he think about his carbon footprint? Charlotte Reid finds out.
Ethical Ocean, an ethical shopping website based in North America, has calculated that Santa’s 122m mile trip around the globe will create 69.7m metric tonnes of carbon emissions.
The top contributor to Santa’s emissions is the lifecycle of toys. The production, packaging and the eventual disposing of the toy, account for 68.1 million tonnes of his emissions.
His workshop also adds to his carbon footprint, given it has to make toys for all the children in the world. Ethical Ocean say it would probably be the size of Nike’s, so would be emitting 983,000 metric tonnes of CO2.
Although Santa is probably very caring towards his workers’ rights, a Hong Kong human rights organisation revealed that to meet the demand for goods in time for the festive period, companies like Lego, Marks and Spencer and Disney were using Chinese factories that exploited their workers’ rights.
An investigation by human rights organisation Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour, found employees were working 140 hours overtime a month and were being paid their wages up to a month late.
Even though Santa traditionally uses reindeers to power his sleigh, this still uses 53,667 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide because of the amount of methane they produce. Instead, he should start to look at more sustainable options. Back in 2009, General Electric created a sleigh that would allow Santa to travel faster using fewer resources as well as many other snazzy features.
Failing that, there are more electric cars available.
Although Santa does only make this trip once a year, Brenna Donoghue from Ethical Ocean, says “his impact is year round” because he is making preparations all year round.
Donoghue said, “While toys were by far the biggest culprit we would never call on Santa to stop delivering toys. A few of the big changes he can make is utilising solar energy to power the factory and be more aware of the footprint of the toys he produces”.
So there is some food for thought there for Santa, but everyone can help him out and help make Christmas more environmentally friendly. Ethical Ocean’s infographic recommends that when you leave out milk and cookies (or even a little tipple) to help Santa as he works through the night, make sure they are locally sourced.
Donoghue added, “We also recommend finding ways to reduce waste – use reusable shopping bags to wrap your gifts, skip disposable plates and cutlery at parties for the real stuff, and if you’re a meat eater and can’t go without turkey, look for organic birds rather than factory farmed“.
The number of shopping days left until Christmas is gradually getting smaller but if you still need inspiration for an ethical Christmas then read our in depth report into ethical shopping or if you know what you are getting then we recommend a visit to the Ethical Superstore.