What is Earth Overshoot Day and why does it matter?

A Drop in the Ocean Shop What is Earth Overshoot Day and why does it matter?
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This post first appeared in our weekly Make Waves Mondays email series on August 1, 2022.

Hey, friend
! This week was a doozy. Here in the PNW we were battling a heat wave that only just began to ease up today, and this past Thursday was a big one - Earth Overshoot Day.

But what is Earth Overshoot Day and why does it matter? Let’s dive into this one a bit.

What is Earth Overshoot Day?

Earth Overshoot Day is the day each year that we have used more resources than the earth can provide in that year.

Every day following Earth Overshoot Day we’re living in a resource debt.

This means that the earlier in the year Earth Overshoot Day falls, the more rapidly we’re using resources that the Earth cannot replenish.

Over the past 50 years, Earth Overshoot Day has pretty steadily been moving up. In just 1971 Earth Overshoot Day landed on December 25th.

This year, it fell on July 28th.

Earth Overshoot Day Over Time

What are Country Overshoot Days?

What’s potentially even more concerning than Earth Overshoot Day itself is that each country has its own Overshoot Day as well.

This is the day each year that Earth Overshoot Day would land on if the entire world lived like the people within that given country.

Here in the US and Canada, our Earth Overshoot Day fell on March 13th.

Yes, we couldn’t even make it through the first quarter of the year without using up all of the resources we should be using throughout the entirety of the year.

Country Overshoot Days 2022

So why does Earth Overshoot Day matter?

Let’s say your monthly budget is $5,000. You won’t earn any more than $5,000 in the month, and you can’t borrow any. But then 17 days into the month, you’ve already spent $5,000. How will you survive the remaining 13 days? Maybe you’ll put the rest of your expenses on a credit card, but eventually you’ll reach the limit on the card, and it’ll be more difficult to pay it off the longer you keep using it.

We know this is not sustainable. Living that far outside of your means will not last you long.

It’s the same with Earth Overshoot Day.

We only have one earth. When we’ve used all of the resources she can provide us in a given year when we’re just over halfway through, what do we do? We pull from reserves and generate waste that make it even harder to pull ourselves out of it.

The Global Footprint Network calculates Earth Overshoot Day each year to help us put into context just how massive our impact on the planet is - and to provide us with tools and resources to #movethedate.

How to #MovetheDate for Earth Overshoot Day

What can we do to #movethedate?

“While our planet is finite, human possibilities are not.” - earthovershootday.org

We’re smart cookies. We have the knowledge, the innovation, the tools at our disposal to find solutions to our planet’s biggest climate challenges.

The team behind Earth Overshoot Day has put together some incredible resources and numbers to demonstrate just how much of an impact we really can have if we made even small changes. They’ve divided them into five categories - planet, cities, energy, food, and population, each one with immense possibility to move us towards the sustainable future we envision.

But for you, my friend, if you’re looking at this going, “Holy moly, Krystina, that’s so much information and so many things to do. How do I know where to start and what’s going to make the biggest impact for me and my lifestyle??” you know I gotchu.

Last year I wrote a whole blog post on how to calculate our individual ecological footprints, including our own personal Earth Overshoot Day.

And you know what’s just so great about going through this process of calculating your footprint?

Your results are broken down into five different categories - food, shelter, mobility, goods, and services. So maybe for you, you bike nearly everywhere, so your mobility impact is way down. But perhaps you love shopping from Amazon, so your goods impact is higher. The results will show you exactly where you can focus your efforts to have the biggest impact.

Krystina's Ecological Footprint

And if you’re looking for even more small changes to make that have big impacts, check out our whole blog series called just that - Small Change, Big Impact.

Now let’s go #movethedate!

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