Santa’s carbon footprint has been calculated for the first time by TRACK from event:decision, the sustainability measurement tool for global events. Delivery by sleigh, recycling of toys to younger siblings, and clever carbon offsetting by elves means his footprint comes out at just over 10g of carbon per 2bn global child, equivalent to one scoop of ice cream – considerably less than a gift from

Santa’s annual outing is no different to any other event, but with children and their parents everywhere thinking about sustainability and their carbon footprint, how does Santa’s delivery schedule measure up? The team at event:decision took a look;

Travel – Santa travels some 160m kilometres* to deliver joy to some 2bn children each year.  event:decision assumed Santa’s travel can be equated with a seat on a 747 plane for a similar distance, but not using sustainable aviation fuel. So that’s 18,400 tCO2e**.

Heating – Santa’s cabin is reputed to be only 232sqm.***. Heating that in such a cold place isn’t cheap. The event:decision team understands Santa uses renewable sources for his energy, but we can still add in approximately 10 tCo2e.

Manufacturing – toys that Santa delivers are made by the elves from recyclable materials wherever possible with no batteries included (we know parents really appreciate this). All toys he delivers are played with for some time and then passed on, we hope, to younger siblings or someone who might appreciate them. Recycling of toys is a very sustainable solution. How the elves make so many toys in such a small space is a mystery, but, event:decision have learned that the elves plant one tree for every one that they use in manufacturing, so that’s neutral, in carbon terms.

The team at event:decision finally arrived at 20,000 tCO2e all in. (0.5% of the least-worst projected footprint of the 2022 FIFA World Cup). Put against 2bn children, that’s 10g of carbon per child. 2bn smiles and untold excitement and happiness for the equivalent of manufacturing 1.2m pairs of trainers, 23m washing machine cycles or….one scoop of ice-cream per child.

Matt Grey Founder of event:decision says; “We wanted to reassure children who are conscious of their impact on the environment, that the gifts they find under the tree this year have been delivered with Santa’s usual care – and that extends to minimising his carbon footprint. If they don’t get the latest toy from Amazon, but something small and thoughtful instead, they need to know they’re really helping the planet. We hope they all enjoy their presents this year!”


Matt Grey founded with some of the world’s best-known brands, including Sainsburys and Asda.

*Purdue University.

**CO2 emissions from aviation fuel are 3.15g per gram of fuel, which gives CO2 emissions from a Boeing 737-400 of 115g per passenger per km.

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