Earth Overshoot Day

What is Earth Overshoot Day?

It marks the date when our demand (us as humans) for ecological resources and services exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year.

This year (2021) it falls on 29 July.

Past Earth Overshoot Days

The date is determined each year by Global Footprint Network.

In 1971 the date was 20 December.

In 1981, 11 November.

In 1991, 9 October.

In 2001, 21 September.

In 2011, 3 August.

It is shocking to see the increase of a month across each decade.

How can we move the date of Earth Overshoot Day?

In 2019, the date was 26 July, in 2021 it’s 29 July. In 2020, due to the initial drop in resource use in the first half of the year due to pandemic-induced lockdowns, it was 22 August.

So, it is clear that we can all work together to make small changes that have a big global impact. If we moved it by a month in one year, in five years’ time, we could move the date to December. This is a big task, as life gets back to normal, but it is a realistic target by 2030 (the year of the current government environment targets).

These are the main impacts on the earth’s resources:

  • Planet – how we can help nature thrive
  • Cities – how we design and manage cities
  • Energy – how we power ourselves
  • Food – how we produce, distribute, and consume food
  • Population – how many of us there are

Changes we can all make

Planet – we can help nature to thrive and as a result humankind will thrive.

We can take part in traditional conservation of animals, and the conservation and restoration of our ecosystems.

  • At home: make places for wildlife to thrive by planting some wildflowers in your garden, and other plants that bees and insects will enjoy. You could take part in activities that clean up your local park or river, or generally do a litter pick, all of this will have a positive impact on the local ecosystem. Reduce the carbon emissions by taking public transport and reducing the amount of non-recyclable items that you throw away by reusing where possible.
  • In your business: take a look at your supply chain – are there changes that could be made to make less impact on the environment? Could you source locally, more ethically, with less packaging? Plastic is one of the biggest generators of carbon, so could you reduce how much plastic is in your supply chain and business? You could also look at ways to reduce water consumption and improve recycling.

Cities – 80% of the population is expected to live in cities by 2050, so we need sustainable urban designs that counteract the environmental impact.

  • At home: use public transport where possible, create a mini garden on your balcony – no space is too small to grow, and every plant will have a positive impact on city life.
  • In your business: can you encourage staff to use public transport or cycle to work? Can you counteract city life in your business by carbon off-setting? Perhaps you could have a rain garden on the roof, a recycling scheme, or create a mini garden in your car park.

Energy – we need to increase our use of renewable energy sources, and reduce the amount of carbon we create.

  • At home: as well as reducing carbon in your home, you can help conserve energy usage in a number of ways. Make sure your home is insulated, have a smart meter installed so you can monitor energy usage, and look to see if your energy provider uses green energy. There may also be grants available to install solar panels.
  • In your business: switch to green suppliers where possible and look at streamlining your processes to avoid extra vehicles on the road. Can you start a car sharing scheme and promote public transport? Encourage virtual meetings rather than physical ones.

Food – about one third of all food gets wasted, so we need to reduce this, and with animal calories significantly more resource intensive than plant calories to produce, reducing meat consumption will have a positive impact.

    • At home: reduce the amount of meat you eat. You don’t need to become vegan or vegetarian, but perhaps a meat-free day a week, or if you can meet free weekdays, will help. Also reduce your food waste by making a meal plan and shopping list, and research recipes for your leftovers. You can also grow your own fresh produce.
    • In your business: support a local food hunger programme, or food growing project.

How Groundwork can help you

Groundwork has a number of projects that you can either get involved in, or work with us on.

We have growing programmes that teach you how to grow your own fresh produce, and how to make nutritional meals with what you grow. We can also help you with recycling and improving your home’s energy efficiency.

If you’re a business and want to make an impact, you can help by commissioning us on the projects mentioned above, or ask our Landscape Architects to create  sustainable design in your town/city, or talk to our Sustainable Business Advisors on how your organisation can improve its green credentials and reduce its impact on the environment.

Get in touch.