You may have seen the hashtag #MoveTheDate making rounds on social media earlier this month alongside images of Mother Earth as people worked to raise awareness for Earth Overshoot Day, which landed on August 1st this year.
Earth Overshoot Day (also known as World Overshoot Day) marks the date when humans have consumed more ecological resources than the planet can regenerate in a year. And this year, it appears we’ve really outdone ourselves. In just seven months (the earliest Earth Overshoot Day to date), we have already squandered away a year’s worth of natural resources! This means the United States would need five Earths just to maintain the current consumption rate! To put this into perspective—the overshoot date in 1987 was December 19th!
We are clearly consuming at an alarming and highly unsustainable rate! In order to help get the planet back on track by 2050, the president of the Global Footprint Network (creators behind the Earth Overshoot Day movement) Mathis Wackernagel says we need to rollback Earth Overshoot Day 4.5 days each year. Sounds totally doable right?!
So, what can you do to take #MoveTheDate beyond the hashtag and help move the planet towards a more sustainable future? First, try calculating your own Earth Overshoot Day and ecological footprint here and then, try adjusting certain areas of your life to help minimize your ecological footprint. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already ditched meat and dairy from your diet, so you’re already well on your way! But here’s a few other ways you can get started:
1. Adjust your shopping habits
Unfortunately, purchasing goods at the store can include a LOT of unnecessary plastic. Try avoiding products that come wrapped or prepackaged. A great way to practice sustainable grocery shopping is by frequenting your local farmer’s market. Not only will you be able to purchase minimally packaged goods, the products you do purchase will help reduce overall carbon footprint because the foods don’t have to travel long distances before they wind up in your shopping basket.
2. Practice energy-saving habits
There are *many* ways you can cultivate energy-saving habits in your home. If you have the wherewithal to purchase energy-saving features for your home, power to you! But there are relatively inexpensive ways you can reduce the amount of energy your household uses. Try minimizing the amount of time your AC is turned on this summer by cooling your home naturally. You can also hang-dry your clothes instead of throwing them in the dryer. When furnishing your home, try choosing second-hand items or products that have been recycled or sustainably produced.
3. Save water, shower together
Always a terrific option, but really—try taking shorter showers. The average American uses 17.2 gallons of water per 8-minute shower (!!!) so try getting your shower times to below five minutes by setting a timer if need be. And when you’re brushing your teeth, please don’t leave the faucet running!
4. Produce less trash
Once you’ve eliminated purchasing heavily packaged goods from the store, you may notice this adjustment is a lot easier. In fact, zero-waste living may just be attainable after all! There are so many ways you can cut back on the amount of trash you are generating in your home. Ditch plastic toothbrushes for a compostable brush, make DIY toiletries (like deodorant and toothpaste), use shampoo/conditioner bars instead of plastic bottles, use a menstrual cup instead of tampons or pads…the list goes on!
5. Drive less, carpool more
Driving releases an unnecessary amount of pollution (noise pollution is a thing!) into the air. If you live far from work or school, your options for avoiding driving may be a little trickier. Try reaching out to classmates or coworkers to see if any live in your area for carpooling. Public transit is another terrific way to cut back on the amount of time you spend driving. If you live close to work or school, walking or biking provide great exercise as well as the opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint. If you simply cannot avoid driving, try grouping your errands together to minimize time spent on the road.
Can you think of other ways to help Mother Earth?
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Photos: Evie Shaffer via Unsplash, Earth Overshoot Day,