Oh shoot, Earth Overshoot Day is three days earlier this year than last year and it’s the earliest it has ever been, ever! Now why is this a cause for alarm and how do we fix this?
What is Earth Overshoot Day?
Earth Overshoot Day fell on July 29 this year which means that in just seven months, humanity has used up all the natural resources that our planet can renew in one year; resources such as water, oil, clean air, crops, forests, food, etc.
According to Global Footprint Network, the non-profit organization responsible for the calculation of Earth Overshoot Day, humanity is using resources faster than our planet’s ecosystem can regenerate and at this rate, we will need 1.75 planet Earths just to support the current rate of human consumption.
Humans have been ‘spending’ earth’s resources like crazy, with the date moving up two months over the past twenty years. Essentially, to live within our ‘planetary means’ we would need to make our resources last until December 31. We’ve already blown our budget. If earth were a bank, we would be in major debt, in fact, we’d be in ‘overdraft’ and would need to find ways to slow down our ‘resource spending’ if we don’t ever want to fully bankrupt our planet.
Top 3 countries with the highest carbon footprint
“Ecological overspending costs are becoming increasingly evident: deforestation, soil erosion, biodiversity loss, and the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere leading to climate change and more frequent extreme weather events,” states the Global Footprint Network. Climate change is human-induced after all.
So which countries had the highest carbon footprints?
Qatar took first place, Luxembourg came in second and United Arab Emirates came in third, middle eastern countries topping the list mainly because of the burning of fossil fuels for energy.
Ways to reduce carbon footprint and #MoveTheDate
By over-consuming our resources, we are not leaving much for future generations to prosper. Here are ways to reduce carbon footprint for a more sustainable future:
A person can make a huge difference when they change their diet such as cutting down on meat and purchasing locally grown food.
As mentioned in our previous article, according to the documentary film Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret, agriculture is responsible for 51 percent of human-caused climate change. Livestock emits so much more greenhouse gases compared to all the world’s transportation carbon emissions combined.
Pro Tip: If you’re keen to eat less meat, why not undertake the Meat Free Week challenge? Alternatively, you can go all-in by embracing a plant-based diet. Our guide, “How to Start a Plant-Based Diet” will help you on your meat-free journey.
Sacrifice your own convenience by leaving your car at home once in a while. Minimize driving and consider cycling, walking, joining a carpool or taking a public transportation to reduce your carbon footprint.
Pro tip: If you’re a city dweller, our post “5 Eco-Friendlier Ways to Commute in the City” offers more information on sustainable transportation options.
By avoiding the purchasing of new items and opting for second-hand, you are helping to decrease demand and thus production. By living within your means and living simply, you are helping to cut down on waste, maximise the use of existing items, and even control the materials used to make that item. Consider how a new product was produced and how much its production impacted the environment; by buying less you can avoid all of that.
Pro tip: For second-hand fashion, these apps will help. You can also rent and hire designer fashion with popular sites such as Rent the Runway in the United States and Australia’s GlamCorner. For a comprehensive list of shopping rental sites, click here. Check out this page for renting children’s clothing.
Cut food waste
The world wastes one-third of all food produced, imagine all the resources –water, fossil fuels, transportation, refrigeration, labour– used to produce food that’s never even eaten! You can reduce food waste by being a sustainable diner as well as composting your food waste. Food and green waste dumped in the garbage bin ends up in landfill which eventually produces methane, a greenhouse gas that greatly contributes to climate change.
Pro tip: For a complete guide to cutting food waste, this post will help.
There are water shortages around the world and the crisis will only worsen as climate change makes the drought more inevitable in many areas across the world including India, California and Australia. Taking shorter showers, checking for leaks, harvesting your own water and purchasing a low flow shower head or faucet head can help to reduce water use.
Pro tip: Track the carbon footprint of your lifestyle activities with these sustainable lifestyle and carbon tracker apps.
In many parts of the world, we still get energy through burning coal, as dirty as it is. Aside from advocating for government investment in clean and renewable energy industries, you can play your part by turning off the lights, unplugging items when not in use, using LED light bulbs and purchasing energy efficient appliances.
This is a global emergency and each of us must do our part to save Mother Earth. Let us collectively work together to stay within the carbon budget so we are able to #MoveTheDate and ensure Earth Overshoot Day falls as late in the year as possible, preferably December 31!
- UN Climate Change Report: Land Clearing and Farming Contribute a Third of the World’s Greenhouse Gases
- 30 Things You Can Do If You’re Feeling Helpless About Climate Change
- Climate Change: A Climate Scientist Answers Questions From Teenagers
- Daily Sustainable Habits: 7 Ways You Can Reduce Your Waste
- Bringing Frugality Back: Why Living Frugally is More Sustainable
- Concerned About The UN Climate Report? Take These Sustainable Actions Today…
- Individuals in the Developed World Consume More of the Earth’s Resources. Here’s How to Consume Less…
Feature image by Markus Spiske.