How Santa Sizes Up - The Carbon Footprint of Christmas

Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.
— Dr Seuss

Really, we are just having a little fun here.  We love the holidays!  The best way we can make change, we think, is to focus on creating new and positive changes for ourselves.  On the other hand, a little awareness can go a long way too!  Without an awareness of the scale of our impact, we can not hope to make effective change.

The Wrap Sheet

For the fun of awareness, here is a quick run-down on the carbon footprint of the typical American Christmas.  Assuming a 'typical' American household of two adult shoppers and two minor's of average holiday spending habits:

That 3,011 pounds of CO2 equivalent is an atmospheric volume of 26,800 cubic feet which would fill up a package that is over 29' 6" in each direction.  Considering that our emissions will remain in Earth's atmosphere for a century, it is clear that finding ways to make reductions is in our best long-term interests!

For additional information and back ground on how we assembled our numbers, you can

  • Visit this site for an impressively exhaustive comparison of Christmas tree options.
  • Go here for a study of the footprint of greenhouse grown roses.
  • Review this study on CO2e for greenhouse grown poinsettia's in Germany (note, in US we then need to account for cargo from Mexico).
  • Hit Carnegie Mellon University to review the Economic Input Output Lifecycle Assessment which provides an excellent review of the impact of all sectors of the US GDP.
  • Visit this page for an English study on CO2e per pound spent on food.
  • Review CO2e per gallon of gas burned at the EPA's equivalency calculator.

Photo: Kevin Dooley via Flickr