Santa Goes Green

For years, my husband has wrapped all his Christmas presents in the comic pages from our newspaper. This year there is even a present under the tree wrapped in the flyer from our local supermarket listing this week’s holiday specials. Nothing says Christmas like a picture of a rump roast for $1.99/lb. He says Santa would approve of his recycled gift wrap. This got me to thinking, I wonder if Santa has adopted an environmentally-friendly lifestyle? So I texted him some questions at Ho Ho Ho and here is what he had to say:

Q:  Santa, how do you make sure your means of transportation is green?
A: Well of course the reindeer which pull my sleigh are the ultimate renewable energy vehicles. They leave no carbon footprint even though they circle the globe hundreds of times on Christmas Eve. They never get tired and live forever (in the minds of children).  They do emit some methane gas occasionally, if you get my drift. I try to keep the sleigh up wind of them. Ho! Ho! Ho!

Q:  What about Rudolph’s nose? Doesn’t that require some outside source of energy?
A: Why Rudolph’s nose is lit by the energy he produces when he flies, he’s sort of like a hybrid car in that way.

Q: You make a lot of toys for good boys and girls; doesn’t that require a lot of electricity to run your equipment?
A: Most of the toys that come out of my workshop are handmade by the elves, so not much electricity is needed. When we do need it, my workshop relies on wind energy generated by the turbines out back. We actually try to get a lot of our work done in the summer when we have sunlight 24 hours a day and the solar panels on the roof are fully charged.

Q:  Since your elves work 24/7, how do you keep the workshop lit?
A: Compact fluorescent light bulbs of course. These puppies last so much longer than the bulbs I use to use. We also use dimmers, timers and motion detectors that let us use light only when it’s needed.  Of course there is always my jolliness. My mirth always lights up the workshop, I highly recommend it.

Q: Do you have a backyard up there at the North Pole? Has it been certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a wildlife habitat?
A: Why yes, my yard is full of, well–reindeer of course. Sadly we don’t see as many polar bears in the Arctic region as we use to now that the ice is melting so fast, but we still gets birds like snow buntings and Northern fulmars. And we have a small stream out back too. Mrs. Claus is the gardener in the family and she got a nifty sign for the yard showing our habitat has been officially certified by the National Wildlife Federation.

Q: Some bad boys and girls get a lump of coal in their stocking but coal mining is bad for the environment, how do you deal with that?
A: You didn’t notice? We know there is no such thing as “clean coal” so I switched to a compostable product called  F-O-A-L several years ago. It’s a coal-like product made of vegetable waste – totally environmentally friendly, no worries about mountaintop-removal mining. And it’s edible!

Q:  I imagine you encounter a lot of dirty chimneys in your line of work. Any advice for home owners getting ready for your visit?
A: You should have your chimney cleaned at least once a year to keep your fires burning safely and efficiently. And a clean chimney will help keep my red suit clean. Mrs. Claus just hates doing laundry. For families who burn wood for heating and want to go greener, they can replace their drafty wood-burning fireplace with a cleaner-burning and more efficient modern wood stove.

Q: Speaking of chimneys, any particular kind of snack you like kids to leave for you on the hearth?
A: I’m partial to chocolate and a nice cup of shade-grown coffee. The reindeer just gobble up those organic carrots. Of course eating 16 million cookies in one night is a challenge. I have to watch my girlish figure you know.

Q: How do you keep all those elves well fed? Do you use any sustainable farming practices or do you have to import all our food?
A: You’d be surprised how much food can grow even in a colder climate.  Mrs. Claus is really the green thumb in the family and ever since I had the elves build her a small greenhouse, we’ve had salad greens and veggies nearly all year round. And as you can see from my “bowl full of jelly” I’m not exactly starving.

Q: Speaking of the Mrs., she must be hard to buy for, what are you getting her for Christmas?
A: Don’t tell anyone, but I do most of my shopping on-line these days, so easy, and parking that sleigh at the mall is such a hassle. The National Wildlife Federation has lots of cool “green” gift items in their catalog like the ornaments they sell. For each ornament purchased, a tree is planted.  Check out their selection at

Q: We hear a lot about global warming Santa, have you seen any of the effects up there at the North Pole?
A: Indeed I have,  the sea ice is melting pretty darn fast. There is way less than there was 30 years ago. It use to take me a long time to walk over the ice before I’d reach water.  Now the water is practically in my backyard.  And the polar bears don’t like it one bit! They can’t even get a decent meal since there is ice in fewer areas from which they can hunt their favorite food, seals.

Q: Your elves must make some waste while working in your workshop – do you recycle?
A: Why of course we recycle. We find good homes for any of our left-over toys, and we make sure no paper, plastic or aluminum ends up in our landfill. Why we even compost our food, which makes great fertilizer for Mrs. Claus’ garden.

Q: Is your house and workshop well insulated, it gets pretty cold up there at the North Pole?

A: Since a lot of my workshop is underground, snow and ice serve as a great insulator, but families can button up with good insulation and some caulking or weather-stripping around the windows. We also program our thermostat to regulate heating when Mrs. Claus and I are out for a night on the town.
The reindeer never complain about getting cold because they have these unique hairs which trap air providing them with excellent insulation.  These hairs also help keep them buoyant in the water which comes in handy when we have to cross oceans and rivers. That’s the truth, really!

Q: Santa, do you wrap all your presents? That’s a lot of paper and ribbon that usually gets thrown away.
A: I recommend that parents leave the presents I deliver unwrapped.  That way kids will know what I’ve left for them vs wrapped presents from other people. This saves a lot of paper and ribbon from being wasted.

Q: Any other suggestions you’d like to make Santa?
A: We can all make a difference in making our planet a greener, healthier place to live. I’m doing my part and hope everyone will pitch in. Future generations will thank us.

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Published: December 22, 2010