WAnyone who cares about environmental protection – and everyone should do so – knows roughly what they have to do: avoid unnecessary packaging, only buy things that you really need, throw away as little as possible, especially no food, and if so but if something has to go, then go for recycling, please. Many adults like to acknowledge this responsibility by saying that we only borrowed the world from our children. We must therefore pass them on in the best possible condition. And children are often so passionately interested in animals, plants and nature that it goes without saying that they take care of them.
And yet we are preparing a celebration, for many the favorite celebration of the whole year, at which a whole series of these principles are properly disregarded: At Christmas, everything is wrapped with extra wrapping paper and often enough decorated, just to make it right away unpack again. Under every Christmas tree there is at least one present that the recipient, with the best will in the world, cannot do much with. In general, the Christmas tree: Almost 30 million Christmas trees are bought in Germany every year, and around ninety percent of them, i.e. 27 million trees, are without roots, i.e. to be thrown away. There is plenty to eat, many people moan about Christmas gluttony, and we throw away way too much food anyway: according to a two-year-old study, an average of 78 kg of food per capita a year, more than half of it unnecessarily.
In recent years, electricity consumption in private households was a third higher on Christmas Day than on an average day. With these 120 million more kilowatt hours in a single day, 34,000 households could be supplied for a whole year. And we haven’t even talked about travel yet: millions of people go to their parents, grandparents, children for the holidays – or go on vacation somewhere that is warmer or whiter than at home. All the exhaust fumes, all the energy consumption!
One way to describe the impact of our actions on the climate is the carbon footprint. It summarizes how much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases we release – in kilograms. Hold everyone tight: With all the extras at Christmas – the roast, the lights, the domestic flight if there is one – a few years ago every German caused an average of 338 kg of carbon dioxide on the Christmas holidays alone. For some people it’s over two tons. The average CO2 emissions are 11.5 tons in a whole year.
phew Now we’re dizzy from all the numbers and nauseous from pangs of conscience, and Christmas hasn’t even started yet. And now? Just no gifts, no visits, lights out and early to bed? Surely it can’t be that! After all, Christmas doesn’t just mean a family celebration or celebration of love: we would be missing something without it. But how about if we just pay a little attention to the wishes and the preparations, what they mean for the environment? Couldn’t we find a more environmentally friendly way of celebrating with a small change that maybe doesn’t even have to be noticed at our party? Not having the heating on full stop, the tree in full splendour, and at the same time having all the windows open. Don’t serve up a new roast every holiday. More care in choosing gifts. Wrapping the gifts less elaborately – or, as is done in Japan, for example, in reusable cloths instead of paper, which then has to be thrown away. Such things.
When you think about it, there are more little things you can change than you might think. Fortunately, there are more and more families who are concerned about this. And compared to what is done a week later, on New Year’s Eve, out of old custom of pure environmental pollution, Christmas is still harmless anyway. A whole series of cities in Germany are at least planning zones in which fireworks and firecrackers have no place.