What is Earth Overshoot Day?
It marks the day when the world's demand and exploitation of Earth's resources exceed our ability to regenerate them. For the remainder of the year, we live on resources borrowed from future generations.
When is Earth Overshoot Day?
Each year, Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by the Global Footprint Network. It marks the day when the world's demand and exploitation of Earth's resources exceed our ability to regenerate them. Unfortunately, each year, this day has been moving up, meaning we are exploiting the planet's non-renewable resources even more than ever before. It means that for the rest of the year we are operating in a deficit. We are a sort of debt to the planet.
In 2020, however, this day fell a few weeks late in the calendar year, on August 22nd, as the world's economy came to a standstill. While in some ways, the unfortunate events lowered our eco-footprint to an extent, the aftermath of the pandemic in the shape of single-use waste will surely undo any progress, we shudder to think about the mountains of non-recyclable masks alone.
How are we contributing to resource exploitation and climate change?
It is basic math really. The Earth's resources are finite, versus the demands of an ever-growing population that are out of proportion. Every single-use item, each Amazon rushed same-day delivery, every piece of fast fashion clothing, all unnecessary food waste directly results in excessive reliance on fossil fuels, cutting down forests and ocean, soil and air pollution.
Our shopping habits and convenience based lifestyle ensure that we continue to overexploit our planet's finite resources.
What happens when we exploit the planet beyond the point of regeneration?
Natural disasters and extreme weather events that we are unfortunately quite familiar with. Scientists believe climate change is a factor in the recent increase in wildfires, extreme high and low temperatures, melting ice and rising sea-levels, flooding, superstorms, droughts and even pandemics.
How can you #movethedate of Earth Overshoot Day?
As the saying goes: we don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly, we need millions of people doing it imperfectly. We can start by evaluating our everyday consumption and shift to a more sustainable lifestyle. Here are 3 simple steps:
Cut down on single-use packaging
Get rid of the convenience culture that requires single-use packaging in any form. This includes all single-use packaging from cardboard boxes that cut down trees, plastic packaging that is pretty much 100% fossil fuel-based, metal and glass both of which have a heavier carbon footprint to transport and recycle. Choose to refill and reuse, before recycling. Reusables are making a fashionable come back from ear swabs to coffee cups to baby nappies.
Only buy what you need, especially when it comes to items that have a short lifespan. For instance, fast fashion clothing purposefully designed for obsolescence so it becomes unusable after a few wears. It neither gets recycled nor remains in a form to be resold or reused by someone else. Most fast fashion clothing uses fossil fuel-powered synthetic materials and ends up polluting the planet.
Prevent food waste
The amount of energy and resources required to grow food is beyond what we can regenerate. The irony is that a disproportionate amount of food, most of it perfectly edible, goes down the waste stream. By only buying what we will consume and using up every last scrap, we can cut down on the planet's burden to keep producing more than we truly need.
In the end, it is important to remember that the planet and its resources don't belong to us.
At Spruce, we are doing our bit by making reusable refillable cleaning products convenient, so you can consume responsibly, without ever having to throw away another bottle or tap into fossil fuels for single-use packaging. We will also remove ocean-bound plastic worth twenty-five 500ml plastic bottles for each starter kit purchased.