Last Wednesday - August 21st - was Earth Overshoot Day. What does that mean for the planet and the people who live here?
Earth Overshoot Day marks the day that we - as inhabitants of this planet - have used one year's worth of planetary resources. That's right. We went through a year's worth of the Earth's bounty by mid-August. That is not good, you guys. Not good at all.
Silvio Maracci at Ecopreneurist sums this up eloquently:
While it’s only a rough estimate of how fast humanity is drawing down our ecological bank accounts, Earth Overshoot day has arrived sooner than ever before. This stark reminder of the growing pressure humans are putting on our natural resources means we’re borrowing against future generations to cover today’s bills. (emphasis mine)
As a new mom, that last bit really strikes home for me. It means that beginning on August 22nd our cars, our electricity usage, and our water all represent resources that our children might not get to enjoy unless we start making some big changes. Right. Now.
Earth Overshoot Day falls earlier and earlier each year. In 1993, it was on October 21. In 2003? September 22. Ten years from now, will we even make it half the year before gobbling up all that the planet can offer us? Or will we start taking conservation and efficiency seriously? Wouldn't it be great to buck this very scary trend?
Earth Overshoot Day: What You Can Do
We have a lot of power as consumers and as citizens to make a difference. Here are some ways that you can get heard:
- Spread the word! A lot of folks have never heard of Earth Overshoot Day. Talk about it!
- Conserve, conserve, conserve. That means reusing what you have or opting for second hand goods instead of buying new, reducing your water usage, and cutting back on the amount of electricity that you use.
- Get efficient. Choose home improvement projects that help improve your home's efficiency. For example, you can replace old windows or cover them with insulating film. Replacing windows is expensive, but you don't have to do them all at once. Go one room at a time, starting with the draftiest. Speaking of drafts! A simple draft dodger under your doors and windows can help reduce your energy usage!
- Grow your own food (or shop local!). The agricultural industry is one of the most resource-intensive in the world. Between inputs like fertilizers and pesticides to the footprint from shipping food worldwide, our food industry is a beast. Even growing some of your own food can make a big difference. When you can't grow your own, shop farmers markets or join a local CSA to keep your foodprint as low as possible. Local Harvest is a great site to help you find local food no matter where you live.
- Write your Congressperson. Did you know that when you take away the massive fossil fuel subsidies, many renewable energy resources cost the same as or less than fossil fuels? Tell your Congressperson that you don't want to subsidize dirty coal and oil with your tax dollars! You can look up your representatives here.
Had you heard of Earth Overshoot Day before? This was a totally new concept to me, and it really shook me up. Tell me what you're doing to use fewer resources!
Image via Global Footprint Network