From: Reuters
Published December 16, 2005 12:00 AM

Christmas is Damaging the Environment, Report Says

SYDNEY, Australia — Christmas is damaging the environment, says a new report by the Australian Conservation Foundation.


The report titled "The Hidden Cost of Christmas" calculated the environmental impact of spending on books, clothes, alcohol, electrical appliances and lollies during the festive season.


Every dollar Australians spend on new clothes as gifts consumes 20 litres (four gallons) of water and requires 3.4 square metres (37 sq feet) of land in the manufacturing process, it said.


Last Christmas, Australians spent A$1.5 billion (US$1.1 billion) on clothes, which required more than half a million hectares (1.2 million acres) of land to produce, it said.


Water that would approximately fill 42,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools was used in the production of Christmas drinks last December -- most was used to grow barley for beer and grapes for wine.


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"If your bank account is straining under the pressure of Christmas shopping, spare a thought for our environment," Don Henry, the foundation's executive director, said in a statement.


"It's paying for our Christmas presents with water, land, air and resources. These costs are hidden in the products we buy."


The report said that gifts like DVD players and coffee makers generated 780,000 tonnes of greenhouse pollution, even before they were unwrapped and used. A third was due to fuel consumption during production.


Even a box of A$30 chocolates or lollies this Christmas, will consume 20kg (44 pounds) of natural materials and 940 litres (207 gallons) of water.


"We can all tread more lightly on the earth this Christmas by eating, drinking and giving gifts in moderation, and by giving gifts with a low environmental cost, such as vouchers for services, tickets to entertainment, memberships to gyms, museums or sports clubs, and donations to charities," said Henry.


Source: Reuters


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