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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 December 2007, 14:22 GMT
Counting carbon cost of Christmas
By Sallie George
BBC News, England

Researchers calculated our carbon footprint in Christmas puddings
The excesses of Christmas are often seen as an inevitable part of the season, with millions of pounds spent on presents, food, parties and travel.

But what is the carbon cost of getting into the festive spirit?

Researchers in York have calculated that over three days of festivities, the average Briton will create about 650kg (1,433lb) of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions - the equivalent of 1,000 Christmas puddings.

To reach this figure, they took into consideration all the energy created by the food people consume, the products they buy and the distance travelled over Christmas.

Waste mountain

Dr Gary Haq, from York University's Stockholm Institute, said: "You've got to think of everything as energy.

"Everything we do and everything we buy creates energy.

"We took into account direct emissions - such as the energy used when a light is turned on - and indirect emissions, which is the energy used to grow or manufacture a product."

From eating and drinking to giving and receiving, Christmas is the time of year when we do things to excess
Dr Gary Haq

Christmas dinner alone will create a mountain of waste, including peelings from 240 million sprouts across the UK.

Adding to the piles of waste will be peelings from 105 million potatoes and 20 million carrots.

In total, the average UK reveller will produce 26kg (57lb) of CO2, equal to the weight of 40 Christmas puddings.

Dr Haq said it was not just food which contributed to the Christmas carbon footprint.

The UK population as a whole will travel approximately three billion miles to visit family and friends over Christmas, he said.

Tips for a low carbon Christmas
Christmas decorations
Plan Christmas dinner carefully to reduce wasted food
Compost vegetable peelings
Use energy efficient LED lights and turn them off overnight
Give unwanted gifts to charity, local hospitals or hospices
Try to buy from local organic suppliers

For the average Briton, this means about 121 miles of travel during the festive period, producing 96kg (211lb) of CO2.

And it is not just food and travel which goes towards the increased carbon footprint - Christmas lights, presents and cards all contribute.

This year each person will spend an average of 425 on Christmas presents, of which 92 will be spent on unwanted gifts.

According to the research, the average Briton spends 7.40 on Christmas cards, creating 5kg of CO2 per person.

Dr Haq said: "From eating and drinking to giving and receiving, Christmas is the time of year when we do things to excess.

"Unfortunately, it also means we are likely to have a greater impact on the environment."

Dr Haq said there were signs that people were making efforts to reduce their carbon footprints.

He said: "A lot of people are already getting into the habit of recycling.

"With a bit of thought you can limit the impact you have on the environment this Christmas and still have a great time."

Carbon cost of Christmas dinner
11 Dec 07 |  Manchester
Scheme to cut 'carbon footprint'
21 Nov 06 |  Science/Nature


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