Intelligent Energy

The carbon footprint of Santa Claus [infographic]

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A green retailer has calculated how much carbon emissions Santa would emit this holiday season. Hint: it's not all the reindeers' fault.

The folks at green retailer Ethical Ocean have shared its analysis about how much carbon pollution Santa's annual international sleigh drive would cast into the atmosphere. Don't just blame the Blitzen for his high fiber diet.

The biggest culprit is toys, which would account for nearly 70M tons of carbon from their initial production and packaging to disposal. Parents can cut down on their family's carbon footprint by renting (sanitized) toys online.

However, most children want new toys, so Mr. Kringle's North Pole factory must meet the demands of up to 2 billion of the world's children (they aren't all nice), and is the next worst offender. Each 'good' child receives one wrapped present. Ethical Ocean modeled Santa's workshop after a large Nike factory.

A whole 1/5 of the world's children are assigned to the 'naughty' list, giving the elves just enough time to mine 75,000 tons of coal for punishment. Making wrapping paper releases even more carbon than mining the coal, and reindeers emit over 40,000 metric tons of methane during their 122 mile trip.

Even snacks left for Santa have an environmental impact. It takes 900 to 750 grams of carbon emissions per kilogram of food to produce milk and cookies, according to the infographic. Don't feel too badly: Ms. Claus isn't happy about him eating all that sugar anyway.

What's an ageless folk hero to do? Use recycled toys, migrate the workshop to solar power, use environmental friendly wrapping paper, don't leave coal, upgrade to a high-tech sleigh, and encourage the populace to buy him locally sourced treats.

Perhaps Santa should consider relocating to Silicon Valley?

Image Credit: Ethical Ocean

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David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure