Monday, August 8, 2016

Borrowing From Our Future: Earth Overshoot

Today, we once again reach Earth Overshoot Day - almost a week earlier than last year.  This marks the point where we, as a collective (bad) tenant of the plant consume more than the Earth can annual renew/provide.  Overshoot Day (or Ecological Debt Day) is when the approximate global footprint exceeds the approximate annual global biocapacity, and we "overshoot" the earth's capacity and start (or rather continue) living beyond our global means. For anyone unfamiliar, I really encourage you to take a few minutes to visit, discover what Earth Overshoot is all about, and talk with your family/friends what you might do to make a difference.  Sometimes, the sheer  scale of these enormous global issues feels overwhelming and it is difficult for me to feel motivated. I need to keep reminding myself that everyone's small individual efforts (including ours) add up towards great changes.

To help inspire exactly that sort of cumulative effort, Overshoot Day has some small doable pledges that you can take as part of their #pledgefortheplanet initiative. Why not join in? Here are their suggestions, with the links to each pledge page (there are also prizes if that helps your motivation) as well as a few ideas to help get you motivated towards your pledge activity/activities:

  • Host a Vegetarian Dinner Party.  This is like pretty much every dinner party at our house (check out my veggie boards on Pinterest for some recipes inspiration). :) If you want to take things further than your Overshoot dinner party, you don't need to go full vegan or vegetarian to make an impact - all changes matter. Meatless Mondays are a great way for individuals and families to make a meaningful and sustained change. When/if you do buy meat (or anything really!), choosing sustainable/responsible sources is also a great way to reduce your impact.   
  • Lower Your Household Energy Consumption.  Every little bit helps, even just a single degree on the thermostat! We've just wrapped up a July mini-series on this theme with ideas for reducing energy use in your existing home, including targeted posts on heating/cooling, lighting, and reducing appliance/electronics energy use
  • Learn Your Country's Ecological Footprint.  This pledge includes a great outward link to resources for exploring biocapacity and consumption around the globe, including historical figures and trends.  Don't stop at the green/red - dig a little deeper than the parent map into the numbers underneath and you'll see some of our greenest areas of biocapacity are not so green consumers.  For example, the per-capita figures where we live in NZ are 10.1GHA biocapacity but a greedy 5.6 GHA ecological footprint, with capacity trending down and the footprint creeping up.  With its large land-to-population ratio, manages to be a net positive country thanks to their per capita 16.6 GHA biocapacity not their alarming 9.3 GHA (!) per capita ecological footprint. Canada is not far behind.
  • Telecommute or Use Alternative Transport. Telecommuting isn't an option for many workers, and your ability to use alternative transport is very depending on your personal circumstances. Is public transit an option? Walking? Carpooling?  If it isn't workable for work, how about making the choice for some personal errands instead?
  • Tread Lightly. Ok, so this pledge is a little bit silly, but it's also one of these easiest and designed to get people thinking and talking about choices and change.  Have a little fun!
  • Reduce Your Paper Waste.  Every little bit helps!

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