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This Holiday Season What’s Worse: Coal in Your Stocking or the Carbon Footprint of Your Gifts Under the Tree?

Lots of things have changed this year, and we’ve had to adjust our habits. Some of them haven’t been bad — goodbye pants, hello kayaks!  But the holiday season is still a time to gather with loved ones, share gifts, and celebrate new beginnings.  Heading into the holidays we know you have lots of things to worry about, and the carbon footprint of your gift-giving shouldn’t be one of them. So here are some easy tips to follow when doing your shopping this year. Move over, lump of coal!

What’s the carbon footprint of Santa’s haul? 

We know everything we eat has calories, but did you know that everything we buy has a carbon footprint? 

The carbon footprint of every product, from a Santa hat or dreidel to a 16-pound turkey dinner, can be measured over the course of its life, from cradle to grave. A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) aims to evaluate multiple environmental impacts of a product, from the raw materials used to create the product, to how it was used, and how it was discarded. The LCA of a holiday gift, for example, might include the impact of materials used to create the gift, shipping and packaging, gift wrapping, how the gift was used, and whether that gift was recycled, sent to a landfill, or sent to the back of a closet. 

By understanding the carbon footprint of every step of a product’s life, we can find the biggest sources of emissions and implement ways to eliminate those heavy emitters. Some brands have even started disclosing the carbon footprint of their products just like the nutrition labels in our food. After all, Santa’s sleigh may have zero emissions, but the truck that delivered your last-minute gifts isn’t necessarily on the nice list. 

Ok, so what do we do about our holiday carbon footprint?  

Well the first thing is that we could all buy less stuff. However, we know those Black Friday deals are super tempting and who doesn’t need a little holiday cheer — they don’t call it retail therapy for nothing!

So what’s the next best thing you can do to lower the carbon footprint of your gifts? You can shop local! When you buy from locally owned small businesses, not only are you avoiding the cardboard box and the shipping emissions that come with online purchases, you’re also supporting the businesses in your community that were hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even better, these local businesses are often the ones that are selling those durable goods that you will want to use again and again, which helps reduce waste. 

Finally, you can support the brands that are making tangible efforts to reduce their own carbon footprint, like Impact Snacks and Coolperx. There’s a growing number of brands that are using better materials and actively working to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Here at Clearloop we know that we need to help companies find more ways to improve their impact on the environment — particularly when they can’t do it directly. Our most recent partnership with Coolperx, a corporate gifting company, shows that we can invest in a cleaner electricity grid through something as simple as buying company swag. 

We’re working with brands of all sizes to make our holiday wish of turning everyday purchases into clean energy. You can help us get that wish by supporting companies that have the “100% reclaimed carbon footprint” logo or inviting your favorite brands to join us. 

As we begin to gather together with friends and family – and increase our holiday spending – what brands do you want to see reclaim their carbon footprint and give the gift of new solar power?  


Want to learn more about how to offset your carbon footprint and expand access to clean energy with Clearloop? Drop us a note at hello@clearloop.us or contact us here.

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