July 28, 2022 was "Earth Overshoot Day" - the day of the year on which we used up all the ecological resources of the year globally.
Earth Overshoot Day means that whatever resources we use after that day is beyond what our Earth can regenerate that year. Actually, this day should therefore of course be at the end of a respective year or later. According to the calculations of the Global Footprint Network, the date 1971 was still in the last days of December of the year. Since then, it has continuously shifted forward.
The calculations can only show the complex ecological and economic relationships of our reality in a simplified way. But the fact is: we are currently using more resources than our earth can regenerate. In Germany, our consumption is quite a bit above the global average: For Germany, Overshoot Day was already in the first days of May this year.
These are all worrying and at the same time quite abstract numbers and dates. Where to start to push back the date of Earth Overshoot Day?
#MoveTheDate - but how?
The Global Footprint Network identifies five key areas in which we need to change our use of resources: the design of our cities, our energy production, our food production and consumption, population growth and environmental protection.
These calculations are also simplified, but show how some changes have the potential to postpone Earth Overshoot Day again:
- If we replaced half of the world's meat consumption with plant-based foods, we would shift Overshoot Day by 7 days, just from CO2 and land use. (That doesn't include methane emissions, with theirs the impact would be even greater.) Even if we all ate a plant-based diet just one day a week, that week would still push Earth Overshoot Day back by 1.8 days.
- If we used a bike instead of a car, bus or train for 35% of all trips, we could postpone Earth Overshoot Day by 9 days.
- If we halved global food waste, we would shift Overshoot Day by 13 days.
- 'Smart Cities' would use existing technologies for buildings, industrial processes and power distribution and reduce dependence on energy-intensive modes of transport. If our cities around the world became 'smart cities', this could delay Earth Overshoot Day by a full 29 days.
If we combine several of these approaches to change in our everyday lives, Earth Overshoot Day could be pushed back by months.
And even if it is ultimately always about a fundamental system change - even on a small scale, each of us can start and become active:
Actions for more sustainability in the workcamp
Workcamps offer a wonderful place to work together for more sustainable living, to share ideas, and to take new ideas and actions home with us. For example, with your workcamp group you can:
organize a beach clean/city clean/clean up action at the camp site
actively avoid waste and pay attention to sustainable consumption
live without disposables for a day
use only local foods for a day
only eat vegetarian or vegan for one day
organize an electricity-free day
together draw attention to the topic of climate justice
Will a 6-hour clean-up move Earth Overshoot Day? Hardly likely. But only by creating awareness of the topic and by exchanging ideas about how we can all live well in the future can we change the system in the long term and sustainably.