Why should I be aware of this?
Christmas is a season of giving. It draws out the best in people each year. But, all this comes at a steep cost to the environment: tons of extra garbage, millions of chopped-down trees, and megawatts of flashing lights. With a little effort, everything from holiday gift-giving to light-stringing can be enjoyed with lower carbon footprint.
How does this affect me?
Merry Christmas around the world
- In December 2004, Australians spent $612 million on books and magazines. The production of these products created approximately 430,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases – the equivalent of a year’s pollution from 85,000 cars. Book and magazine purchases also consumed 416,100 tonnes of materials (eg waste paper, ink cartridges, packaging), and more than 40,000 hectares of land was disturbed. This includes plantations, regrowth native forests and old growth forests in Australia and overseas. This is the equivalent of over 5,000 MCGs.
- If you spend $30 on confectionary this Christmas, you will be consuming on average 20kg of materials (even if the confectionary only weighs one kilogram!), 940 litres of water, 26 squared metres of land, and creating 16kg of greenhouse gases.
- Approximately 42 gigalitres of water were used in the production of Christmas drinks in Autralia in December 2004, enough to fill 42,000 Olympic sized swimming pools.
- In the Christmas of 2004, Australians spent $1,500 million on household electrical goods. Before these appliances were even plugged in, they had generated 780,000 tonnes of greenhouse pollution and used over a megatonne of material in their manufacture.
- For every dollar that Australians spend buying new clothes, on average, 0.4 kilograms of material flow has been generated, half a kilogram of greenhouse pollution has been created, 20 litres of water has been used and 3.4 square metres of land has remained disturbed.
All about Green Christmas
Green Christmas decisions could be guided by these.
- Buying locally produced items to reduce food miles and carbon foorprint.
- Making choices that are less harmful / not harmful to the environment
- Going for Fair trade and organic products.
- Using material that can be recycled.
- Low energy usage
- Spending quality time with friends and family to make a memorable Christmas.
What can I do?
- Use LED Christmas lights in place of traditional lights, as they are 90 percent more efficient, emit little heat and last about 200,000 hours
- Buy local, seasonal, winter vegetables.
- Support the local farmers' market.
- Look for meat from traditional breeds of sheep, beef or poultry, raised naturally and locally.
- Opt for free-range, organic birds, or even try an alternative like goose.
- If you can not buy local, buy fairtrade products such as fruit, nuts and chocolate.
- Buy wine with real corks.
- Try to buy food and drink packaged in materials that can be recycled, such as paper and glass.
- Avoid disposable items such as paper serviettes.
- Compost vegetable leftovers - get a wormery.
- Use 100% recycled aluminium foil or baking paper for Christmas cakes
- Use old cards to make green gift tags.
- Send a E-card.
- Wrapping paper is often treated, coloured and sometimes covered in glitter which is not easy to recycle - choose cards and wrapping which contain recycled paper.
- Check if your council recycle real trees.
- Recycle any cards you receive.
- Opt for fair trade food and drink or gifts.
- Use recycled batteries in your new toys or gadgets.
- The various ingredients of an average christmas lunch may have travelled a total of 24,000 miles by the time they get to your plate.
- 3 million tonnes of waste is dumped during Christmas in the UK - enough to fill 120 million bins.
- About 7 million Christmas trees are grown and sold in the UK each year, most ending up as landfill.
- Around 1 million Christmas cards are thrown away every year.
- It is estimated that 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper end up in our rubbish bins each year.
- Christmas tree lights left on for 10 hours a day over the 12 days of Christmas produce enough carbon dioxide to inflate 12 balloons.
- Last year six million Christmas trees took pride of place in British homes and offices. Of these only 10% were recycled and fewer than 5% planted to be re-used next year.
- Go 'Green' This Christmas
- Shopping to help the environment
- Green Christmas: Tips for an Eco-Friendly Holiday; National Geographic News