Today is the UK’s Earth Overshoot Day.
Earth Overshoot Day is the day when we consume the total resources available to us sustainably. Resources used sustainably can be replenished each year but as you’ll see we are over-exceeding that quite dramatically.
Calculating what day is Earth Overshoot Day is done by dividing the Earth’s biological capacity by humanity’s ecological footprint and the multiplying by 365 for the number of days in the year. We can also work that out for individual countries, regions, and even the lifestyle we have as individuals.
Since the 1970s (and probably before that), Earth Overshoot Day has been getting earlier and earlier each year. As the chart below shows back in 1970 we, as a global society, were just about living within our means and not exceeding the sustainable consumption of resources. In 2018, Earth Overshoot Day was the 1st of August. This year it is likely to be even sooner…
UK Earth Overshoot Day
Every country can have its own Earth Overshoot Day. Developed countries like the USA, Canada and Germany occur even earlier in the year whereas less developed countries like Ecuador, Jamaica and Vietnam all occur later in the year.
So for the UK, if every person in the world lived the same lifestyle as the average person here, we would have consumed more resources than the planet can sustain each year in just over four months. And this is based on 2018 data – it could actually be even earlier this year!
Just looking through the list of countries mentioned on the graphic above shows the extent of the problem and the size of the solution needed to start putting Overshoot Day further back.
My Own Overshoot Day
By collecting data on the food you eat, the kind of house you live in, how much you travel and by which type, and a number of other factors, you can actually work out how many Earths would be needed if everyone around the world used the same number of resources that you use and when your personal Earth Overshoot Day is.
As an example, I did the quiz and entered in the data as accurately as I could to the lifestyle I lead…
Turns out I’m even worse than the average UK person!
Even as someone who tries to do the right things as often as possible (cutting down on meat consumption, sourcing food locally, reducing car travel as much as possible, etc…) there is still plenty I need to do to start living within my means.
So, if you’re reading this and you want to find out just how many Earths would be required if everyone on the planet lived the same lifestyle as you, then click here. And please do post it! Whether that’s in the comments section below, on any of the Think Sustainability social media sites or just generally on social media. Use the #thinksustainability if you like and I’ll be sure to keep an eye out.
So get involved. This is one great way that we can find out what kind of impact we are having on the planet and once we are aware of the problem we are creating we can begin to find and implement solutions!