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Christmas harms the environment, report finds

The production of Christmas gifts and decorations is damaging the environment, according to a new report by the Australian Conservation Foundation.
/ Source: Reuters

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 candy during the festive season.

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

Last Christmas, Australians spent $1.1 billion on clothes, which required more than 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.

“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 tons of greenhouse pollution, even before they were unwrapped and used. A third was due to fuel consumption during production.

Even a small box of chocolates will consume 44 pounds of natural materials and 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.