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Reuse and reduce key to move Earth Overshoot Day

Rebecca Prince-Ruiz | 28 July 2022

Everything we choose to buy, consume and accept has a footprint that is using Earth’s resources. But what happens when the resources are used up and thrown away?

Similar to our bank accounts, when we spend more than we earn, we go into debt. 

When we overshoot and use more resources in any given year than the Earth can regenerate we have an ecological deficit that causes pollution, biodiversity loss and climate change.

The 28th July 2022 marks Earth Overshoot Day. The date when humanity has used all the biological resources that Earth regenerates during the entire year. 

(Earth’s Biocapacity / Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day

This sounds overwhelming but it’s a timely reminder that we can make a difference by looking for opportunities to live within nature’s means.

Move the Date

Just look at 2020. In the wake of pandemic lockdowns and reduced economic movement, Earth Overshoot Day got pushed back to 22nd August. 

When we went back to full production, consumption and economic activity we have moved forward by nearly a month.

So what can we do today?

As musician Pete Seeger’s lyrics go:

“If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled or composted then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.”

When we decide to avoid single-use plastics we can also choose to reduce our consumption and move away from a throwaway society that sees earth’s resources being used once or twice and thrown into the bin.

Reduce, reuse and refill are key to moving Earth Overshoot Day back.

Reducing our coffee’s footprint

Takeaway coffee cups are a great example of how to choose single-use plastics in our daily habits. 

Disposable items such as single-use compostable cups still take resources from extraction to production, transportation and use. When we use the cups we already have, over and over again, we’re not using any new resources.

By changing our relationship with plastic and challenging our consumption, everyone has the opportunity to take responsibility. 

Let’s not be a throwaway society, instead let’s turn this around for a cleaner future.

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