Environmental cost of the Christmas and New Year holidays

Environmental cost of the Christmas and New Year holidays

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We do not pretend at all to be a "spoilsport" but simply to raise awareness of the reality that this season, not only will it leave a big hole in our pockets, but that, if we do not do something to change our consumption habits, it will also continue to do so in health enviroment.

These are some of the ways in which, perhaps inadvertently, we are harming our environment. The idea is that if we know where we are going wrong, we will be able to use common sense and correct our mistakes.

The trees

Christmas trees, although beautiful and basic in any home at Christmas, are not beneficial to our environment in any way, no matter if they are natural or if we have opted for the plastic "of a lifetime".

Cutting down living trees means that fewer plants will be generating oxygen. In addition, they are generally discarded every year, as they have died at the end of the festive season, but figures still suggest that a minimal amount of the purchased trees will be recycled properly, leaving the rest at the mercy of rot or in the trash.

However, the plastic tree alternative is by far the most damaging for myriad reasons. Petroleum products (PVC) are used to make them with the consequent generation of toxic by-products and require a significant expenditure of resources in their manufacture, transport, packaging, etc.

Conventional artificial trees are often reused for several years, but keep in mind that once discarded, their destination is inevitably a landfill, as they cannot be recycled in any way.


With endless gift shopping for all family members, colleagues and friends, two things are unavoidable: unwanted presents (ending up in the trash or gathering dust in a sad corner) and the substantial increase in production to company level, to meet the demands of each season.

Much of the Christmas-specific merchandise produced online each year goes unsold and ends up in post-Christmas sales or landfills. If we add to this situation the piles of discarded packaging, cardboard, plastics and wrapping paper, we are faced with a dramatic increase in the amount of garbage that will have to be used as a sanitary landfill.


There is no doubt that the lights of the Christmas tree and all that luminous and decorative display, both inside and outside our homes, may give a nice image, but the environmental impact of these excesses has nothing positive.

Not only do these additional decorations sharply and painfully increase utility bills, but they require greater production to meet user expectations, which in countries like Spain where the generation does not depend on green sources for more than a small percentage, pollution levels will skyrocket.

The papers

The amount of conventional wrapping paper used each year, along with the number of Christmas cards (not made from recycled paper) sent and received, requires that forest resources be overexploited. And with the serious problems that forests already have in terms of deforestation and fragility, these practices are very pernicious.

The trips

Christmas is a time to spend with loved ones, but since many families are in disparate points of the world geography, the use of cars, trains, airplanes and other means of transport, undoubtedly contributes to increasing the carbon footprint of each traveler during the festive period.

The waste

Given the atmosphere of this season, parties, meetings and meals are undoubtedly proliferating. These generate a huge amount of waste that is not always recycled or reused in the most appropriate way.

It is proven that the consumption of beverages increases exceptionally and therefore the quantities of containers, both plastic, cans, and especially glass, will multiply alarmingly and the way they are disposed of is not usually adequate.

The biggest problem is that the vast majority of people in these times "forget" to recycle correctly and do not realize that just now, when there is an excess of waste, is when a joint effort is most needed and a collective awareness of this problem.

Regarding the subject of meals, it seems that we had been on a rigorous diet all year, with the sole objective of eating excessively during the month of December. You cook or buy prepared food for 15 people, even 5 people and most of the leftovers will end up in the trash.

A final thought

It is possible to have parties with lower environmental costs by using LED lights, cooking the right amount to satisfy diners, sharing a car, buying ecological gifts and wrapping them in recycled paper, choosing real trees from sustainable plantations and taking care to recycle all waste very well . Wanting is power.


Video: British Holidays - New Years Day (May 2022).