Earth overshoot day, what’s that?
On the 1st August this year, we hit earth overshoot day. The earliest it’s ever been. Earth overshoot day is the day by which we have used up all the resources the planet can renew in a year. So in 2018, we have used up a year’s worth of natural resources in 7 months. According to overshootday.org we would need 1.7 earths to fill our current demand.
When is my earth overshoot day?
On their website, they link to a footprint calculator, which I will admit I have been avoiding taking. But as it was earth overshoot day, I decided to get my head out of the sand and take it. Well, as expected, it wasn’t good. But really disappointingly so. If everyone lived like me, we would need the resources of 3.1 earths each year. This means that my personal earth overshoot day is 30th April. Wowzers. I know that the calculation isn’t accurate, and there are some answers I didn’t know, so I put worse case scenarios. But there is no escaping the truth. I thought I was doing ok, and maybe compared to my peers I could be quite good. But clearly, that’s not good enough.
Find out when your overshoot day is here.
Being from the west, most of the share of this problem is on our shoulders. The earth overshoot day is calculated across the planet as an average. While I was in Madagascar, I was eating with families who wouldn’t even come close to using 1 year’s worth of resources in a year. They eat the fish that they get from their shore 500 meters away, they drink the water from the well 300 meters away, and they build their houses with the wood from the trees a few kilometres away. They don’t travel and they don’t waste anything. As much as that simply means if the problem lies with us, we must do the most, as an individual in a carbon heavy society, it is hard to extract yourself from that. Most people can only afford to build their homes with the cheaper material, rather than the more local ecofriendly one. But there is so much we can do. Bellow are the changes I am going to make.
What can I do to help?
Overshootday.org suggests ways to move the date back. Here are the ones I’m adopting.
Beef up my plant based diet: I know I will not realistically go vegan overnight. I believe it would be the best thing for the planet, however I know that if I took such a drastic move, I would crack sooner or later and become a carnivore again. So over the last 4 years, I have slowly been cutting out meat. I now only eat meat for about 3 meals a week, so I thought I was doing well. However, having taken the footprint test, I have realised I do still eat too many animal products. I drink milk, eat cheese, yogurt and cream, and I have eggs a few times a week. So I am now looking at cooking vegan meals 3/4 times a week, having more soups and salads, and finding other options to replace all that dairy in my diet.
Home: This is a tougher one to change. I tend to live in houses that I can afford, rather than the environmentally friendly ones. However I did change my electricity and gas provider to a renewable energy one while I was in London (see previous article), and I’m glad to say it caught on with a few other friends too. My next step is to see if I can eradicated single use plastic from my home… watch this space.
Challenge my city leaders: There is a lot we can do individually, but so much we need to do together. I sign petitions and I go to marches against climate change, but I think I need to up my game. Whilst we are dealing with a heatwave, our government lifts a fracking ban in Lancashire. This is unacceptable and we must keep pressuring them to do the right thing and holding them accountable.
The results were disappointing for me, but it also shows me how much more can be done. So I’m seeing the positive, and I’m just going to work harder to lower my carbon footprint, and try and get my friends and family to do the same.
Have you taken the ecological footprint test? Are you surprised by your score? Let me know below if you are trying to change anything in your lifestyle to bring it down.