At Green Cloud Nine, we love Christmas, but also facts and sustainability. So we have put together our favourite mix of all 3. Time to up your green Christmas knowledge, let's dive right into these Global Christmas facts.
Sustainability Facts- Christmas Trees & Decos
Nothing evokes Christmas like a traditional Christmas tree. Families sit around them, presents get set under them...so there is no doubt that they are a centrepiece for the Christmas festivities.
Photo by Elina Fairytale on Pexels.com
Did you know you can now rent a real Christmas tree? The genius concept involves selecting a tree for the festive season and returning it afterwards for replanting. Isn't it brilliant? That way we minimise waste and contribute to a greener planet.
In the UK alone, approximately 500 million tons of Christmas lights find their way into landfills each year. Given their essential role in tree decoration, it's crucial to choose lights that match your needs and are durable, ensuring they sparkle through numerous Christmases.
But what about artificial trees? While they might seem like a green alternative, the reality is diverse. Many are crafted from cheap, non-recyclable materials, leading to a short lifespan and frequent replacements. Opt for a high-quality, long-lasting artificial tree to make a more sustainable choice.
Speaking of non-recyclables, did you know that about 91% of plastic is not recycled? Of this, 12% is incinerated, leaving the remaining plastic to decompose over a staggering 400 years. Christmas is also a great time to rethink our plastic consumption and opt for eco-friendly alternatives.
Accidents around Christmas trees and decorations are a sad but also representative number. 20% of Americans are reportedly getting hurt every year preparing Christmas decorations and although we do not have found similar statistics in Europe, we can guess that we are not far behind. Fires, falls and scratches are the most common so make sure to be careful this year!
Sustainability Facts - Christmas Energy Consumption
In the US, over the Christmas period, the US uses 6.63 billion kW hours to power holiday lights. That is more electricity than some small countries consume in a year.
In Europe, energy used for Christmas lights can get out of control too. Milan (Italy) is reported to be the European city that uses the most energy, with an increase of nearly 70%, closely followed by Ljubljana (Slovenia) and Stockholm (Sweden).
Thankfully, in an attempt to cut energy costs, many cities are cutting down the number of hours for their Christmas lights or replacing them with energy-efficient alternatives. Led lights use 75 per cent less energy than standard incandescent lights. hey are not expensive to purchase, and they have a much longer lifespan than the older style of bulbs. It really doesn’t make sense anymore to have your Christmas tree lit up with any other lights other than LEDs.
As we approach the end of the year, it is a good opportunity to think again about renewable energy. According to the International Energy Agency, renewables are breaking records, which is great news!! It is hoped that by 2030, 70% of the world will be powered by renewable sources. And we are hopeful about the estimation that by 2050, 100% of all energy will come from green energy.
Sustainability Facts - Christmas and Food Waste
In Europe, around 88 million tons of food is wasted each Christmas. Households are responsible for around half of all this waste. Planning your festive menus up front and freezing up or using up leftovers are effective ways to reduce that waste. And if after all is said and done, you still have some remnants of food, you can compost it.
What you eat plays a big part in the carbon footprint of your Christmas. Plant-based alternatives are responsible for much less carbon than beef or lamb that has been imported. For example, a kilogram of beef or lamb can generate from 643 kilograms to 749 kilograms of carbon dioxide — resulting in more greenhouse gas emissions than a passenger flying from London to New York.
Buying locally sourced and seasonal ingredients can reduce your carbon footprint by between 5 to 17 times what it would be if imported in. If you need any more convincing, it also puts money back into the local economy and will benefit you as well as your neighbours.
And of course, there is no celebration without festive drinks, right? Over 500 million cans of soft drinks are purchased in the UK alone during the Christmas period. Recycling just one of these cans can save enough energy to power a Christmas tree's lights for two whole hours. Small efforts, big impact!
Sustainability Facts - Christmas and Climate Change
I didn't want to finish this article without touching the general topic of Climate Change. The way we experience Christmas has an undeniable impact on Climate Change and, the way our environment is changing, also reflects on the holidays.
To start, we overindulge during the holidays without giving it much thought. But, research suggests that the average person is responsible for an additional 635 Kg of carbon emissions during Christmas—equivalent to three weeks of driving a car!
Text-based emails and mobile messages are responsible for part of that CO2. We know they emit some carbon, but how much? Each email generates around 4 grams of CO2, which is not much, but if they stay in the inbox forever, together with hundreds of other unnecessary emails, emissions will increase because email servers use energy that in turn also generates CO2. So, if you think that sending e-Christmas cards this year is carbon-free, think again.
Christmas is also the most wasteful time of the year, which is hardly shocking really, but by just how much? Over the Christmas period, there is an increase of up to 30% in extra waste. Based on stats from the UK, only 1% of consumer goods are in use after 6 months. And, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 80% of toys end up in landfills, incinerators or in the ocean. A big chunk of those before the end of January.
For an alternative eco-friendly Christmas experience including presents, check this other article.
Also, snow is becoming a scarce commodity so we should be expecting a not-so-white Christmas in the future. A dozen different climate models have projected that snow will become significantly more scarce by the end of the century. In the Alps, the number of snow days will halve by 2100.
Extreme summer heat and extensive fires are to be blamed for the short supply of Christmas trees all over the world. In some cases they killed up to 70% of seedlings planted, resulting in the price of Christmas trees going up.
To wrap it up
Christmas can be one of the most wonderful times of the year, full of magic, enjoying with family and creating lasting memories, but it can also be very damaging to our environment. So, let's try to be more aware of our actions so also our planet can have a happy and peaceful holiday time!