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Carbon Footprint Series: Christmas

Carl Wright | December 25th, 2017

I love Christmas. It is probably my favorite time of year and growing up as a child it seemed so magical. The tradition was a simple gift from my mom and dad and an even much simpler gift from Santa Claus. Each Christmas morning there was a stocking, which was actually one of my dad's work socks and I could never figure out how Santa got hold of my dad's work socks. Such are the wonders of Christmas.


Every year the stocking contained the very same items: a candy cane, an orange, a small bag of mixed nuts and a little bag of candy that I recognized came from those tall glass jars at the local general store. I never knew the significance until later in my mother's life when she was sharing some Christmas memories before she passed away; the items in my stocking was exactly what my mom received in her stocking when she was a child.

My mom grew up during the Great Depression, times were tough, and everything my grandparents gave at Christmas was either homemade or homegrown. Gifts were handcrafted and considerable thought was given to making a gift. But the stocking was different, the candy, nuts, and oranges were huge luxuries. My grandparents sacrificed to put these items in my mom's stocking because it meant forking out what little money they had. A crate of oranges would arrive at the local general store just in time for Christmas. During the Great Depression that one orange at Christmas was the only orange my mom would enjoy all year, she was incredibly grateful to receive it.

Our Christmas's nowadays are so different from what my mom experienced 85 years ago during that Great Depression. Our over-commercialized Christmases these days are often characterized by excesses. From eating to drinking to giving and receiving, Christmas time is accompanied by a seasonal increase in our level of consumption. Big extravagant purchases, decorating to the max, loads of parties and travel, and eating until you just can't eat another bite.

The price we pay might be a hefty credit card bill in the New Year, or perhaps a couple of inches on our waistline. What we often forget is a significant carbon footprint. The website "" quotes that our total consumption and spending on food, travel, lighting, and gifts over three days of festivities could result in as much as "650 kg of carbon dioxide emissions". So how much is that? It is "Equivalent to the weight of 1,000 Christmas puddings or 5.5% of our total annual carbon footprint".

History can teach us so much. That Great Depression impacted my mom's decisions throughout her entire life. Free from fluff and bling, my mom's childhood Christmas's were very simple, she probably never heard of the term "carbon footprint." The most important part of her life was all centered around sharing time together as a family and for being grateful for what we have.

So, when I have an orange this Christmas I will remember my mom, and I'll be grateful that the most significant gift she ever gave me was her legacy of living a simple life free from excesses. I'll try my very best to do the same.

Have an excellent Holiday Season from all of us at Busch Systems.

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