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Rantz: Gonzaga University in Christmas tree controversy over sustainability

A view of the Christmas Tree at the Lotte New York Palace Annual Tree Lighting on November 29, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Lotte Place New York Palace)

Merry Christmas, Gonzaga! Some students are upset with your Christmas tree.

The massive tree is located in the John J. Hemmingson Center, as is the tradition, but this year it comes with insufferable eco-justice complaints courtesy of the school newspaper: “how does sustainability juxtapose itself with tradition?”

Apparently it doesn’t. Some students worry it uses too much energy.

“Energy-wise, powering the tree is not sustainable at all,” Ellen Bradley, vice president of Fossil Free Gonzaga, told the Daily Bulletin. “I think that it’s hard because it’s associated with the university, being a Catholic holiday, that it makes sense that they would want to celebrate Christmas in this way.”

Despite the building being Gold LEED certified, Bradley complains that it doesn’t make up for a “Christmas tree that’s lit for a couple weeks straight.”

Though the article doesn’t give the exact data, it’s safe to assume the Christmas tree lights are the traditional energy efficient LED lights. Their eco-footprint is as negligible as you’ll get. But it doesn’t matter to collegiate eco-warriors. Like much of the greater, global movement, they appear more interested in fighting battles that won’t make even the slightest dent in the bigger problem they see.

“Have some kind of conversation around it,” Bradley suggests. “Provide a realm for students to talk about how their families celebrate these traditions, or other holidays for other faiths, and talk about other ways to be more sustainable in doing so.”

So in other words, offer college students a space for feel-good (and meaningless) conversations. Something tells me all that hot air is worse for the environment than three weeks of LED lights.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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