Santa Claus has been around for a very long time. And given his North Pole residence, he's likely taken note of the effects of climate change both at home and while traveling via low-emissions reindeer power. So it should come as no surprise that the beneficent St. Nick has gone green.

Santa spoke to Scottish newspaper The Courier after getting to a shopping center via elf-powered rickshaw in a green version of the traditional Santa suit (the color green -- no word on whether it was made from bamboo, Tencel or hemp). "This year I wanted to arrive at the shopping centre in a form of transport that does not cause pollution," he said. Since everybody knows Santa typically travels via reindeer-pulled sleigh, he must be referring to their natural gaseous emissions. "I really hope that all the children who come to visit me this year will help me spread the Christmas message -- that it really is time to give something back." So far, though Green Santa isn't taking much action beyond his words.

Elsewhere in Scotland's beautiful, Gothic capital city, plans are underway for The Edinburgh Ethical Fayre in December, where Green Santa will make another appearance. Vendors will sell goods made from recycled materials as well as Fair Trade crafts. This news was delivered by an "ethical elf", who is pictured dressed in a green-colored elf outfit. In yet another Scottish green move, this year Edinburgh will refuse the traditional gift of a Norwegian Christmas tree (a goodwill gesture in return for Scotland's support in WWII) in favor of a locally sourced tree.

A Fair Trade gift fair is also being held in London, again with the Green Santa. This one will give out recycled and eco-friendly gifts to kiddies.

Local Christmas celebrations around the U.S. are also taking a few cues from Green Santa. The trend that started gaining ground last year (most notably at the White House and Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree) of using energy-saving LED lights for municipal and other public light displays continues. In fact, this year, NYC's Rockefeller Center's LEDs are solar-powered. And the largest professional provider of Christmas decorations in the U.S., Christmas Décor, is transitioning to LEDs in its 375 locations in 48 states. On the smaller-scale displays is a changeover to LED this year in a city square near my own hometown, Morristown, N.J. There they've also recycled the Santa house instead of building a new one. (Though it's surprising they didn't do that sooner. Seems pretty wasteful to build a new one every year.) The Perth shopping center mentioned above is also embracing LED lights.

Now all Green Santa needs to do is invent a solar-powered Wii, and everyone can have a Merry Christmas.

This article originally appeared in Plenty in November 2008. The story was added to

Copyright Environ Press 2008

Photo: 4eyes1lens/Flickr