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What is Santa's Carbon Footprint?

With Christmas quickly approaching, everyone is getting ready to buy presents for their loved ones. Do you know who else is getting ready for Christmas? Saint Nick, himself!


We all know the story: Santa, along with his merry band of elves and reindeer, are gearing up for that one special night – to give presents to boys and girls around the world. With such an ambitious night of global deliveries planned, you have to wonder what Santa’s carbon footprint could be? In that one night, Santa emits 69.7 million tons of CO2. Emissions wise, that’s the equivalent of burning 76,799,837,806 pounds of coal! So what is the CO2 breakdown of all the joy Santa spreads?


Here’s the breakdown according to ZDNet:

  • Toys are the greatest contributor to Santa’s carbon footprint, creating a potential 68.1 million metric tons of CO2 during their life cycle. Starting from the moment they’re first created and packaged to the time when they are thrown in the trash.

  • All of those gifts have to get wrapped before they get put on Santa’s sleigh. We don’t know what kind of wrapping paper Santa uses exactly, but if every kid gets one wrapped present each, it would produce 284,493 metric tons of CO2.

  • The size of Santa’s workshop also adds to his footprint. When making toys for all the children around the world, you need a good amount of space to get it all done. If Santa’s workshop is similar to the size of a large factory, it would emit 983,000 metric tons of CO2.

  • Parents are always telling their children to not end up on Santa's naughty list and they are right! If twenty percent of all children in the world were on the naughty list, the amount of coal given out would contribute to 75,000 tons of CO2 emissions. If the kids decided to burn the coal rather than bin it, that's an additional 194.591 metric tons of CO2.

  • We all love Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen...and we can't forget our favorite, Rudolph! However, this team of reindeer emits 40,668 metric tons of CO2 during their 122 million mile trip. Reindeer, just like cows, produce methane through their normal digestive functions which is twenty-one times as potent as CO2.

  • The last culprit, and it hurts to say it, is Santa's famous sweet snacks. Leaving milk and cookies on Christmas Eve for Santa is not only a kind gesture but a beloved tradition. Sadly, it takes 900 and 750 grams worth of CO2/kilogram respectively to produce Santa's treats, leading to a total of 8,860 metric tons of CO2.

Now that we see how Santa’s emitting so much CO2, what can he do to reduce the numbers?

  • According to Homesteading, upgrading Santa’s sleigh is the first step. This change will help decrease ice buildup and wind resistance. New sodium powered batteries will also help Santa travel faster over longer distances while using few resources.

  • Santa should make his workshop more energy efficient by switching to solar power. The solar power switch can help harness those Arctic days where there's sunshine for almost the entire twenty-four hours so he can have longer workshop hours.

  • Using recycled materials for wrapping paper and to create toys will reduce Santa’s carbon footprint significantly!

  • Even though some kids have been naughty, more harm than good is done when they get a lump of coal for Christmas. Instead of coal, Santa could give them locally grown vegetables, perhaps their least favorite vegetable, as a more suitable punishment.

  • Most of the things that can be done are within Santa’s means, but that doesn't mean we can't help, too! We should choose some snacks (cookies and almond milk, anyone?) that were produced locally for his special end of the night treat. When we buy locally, less CO2 is emitted due to the decrease in transportation and refrigeration.

Any tips for Santa on how to reduce his carbon footprint? Curious to explore eco-friendly presents for your loved ones? Join the conversation via our Instagram channel and feel free to get in touch with the team at hello@thecapture.club

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