Earth Overshoot Day: Our tips for using fewer natural resources

29th July 2018
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Earth Overshoot Day tracks the date when humanity’s use of natural resources plunges into the red for the year. In 2018 it falls months earlier than in the 1970s.

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date each year when humanity has demanded more from nature than our planet can renew in the entire year. It’s an initiative of the Global Footprint Network.

This year Earth Overshoot Day falls on 1 August. That’s 2 days earlier than last year. 30 years ago, it fell on 15 October. And in 1970, the first year it was tracked, the day fell on 29 December.

In other words, we are are using the Earth’s resources too fast.

What should we do about overconsumption?

It’s easy to blame over consumption on individuals. But we need governments and businesses to change the way resources are used on a global scale.

Responsibility also lies with manufacturers and marketing campaigns that have fostered an “I am what I buy” culture; fuelling consumer anxiety around wearing the latest fashion or owning the latest gadgets.

If you’d like to know how you can use fewer natural resources, and you’re keen to do your bit for the planet, below are Friends of the Earth’s top tips.

But first, please sign our petition to reduce the tide of plastic pollution choking our oceans.

 

Friends of the Earth’s top tips for using fewer natural resources

1. Single use coffee cups are not only a leading cause of plastic pollution, but also a massive drain on natural resources. Grab a reusable coffee cup for your morning caffeine kick or have a little “me time” and sit down with a drink-in coffee before heading to work. Many cafes are now offering discounts for customers with re-usable coffee cups, so you’ll soon find yourself saving money as well as the planet.

2. Hold fire on that phone upgrade. Many of us like to keep ahead of the curve when it comes to upgrading our phones, tablets and other gadgets; but these can involve the mining of up to 40 different elements such as cobalt from Africa, copper from Chile and aluminium from Australia. By keeping each smart phone for longer you will use far few natural resources.

3. Be retro and switch to a bar of soap in the bathroom. The selection is vast but make sure you get one you like, because they will last for ages. That change alone will likely save a large box worth of plastic packaging (not all of which can be recycled) each time you buy soap. More plastic-crushing tips.

4. Eat less meat. Livestock production causes nearly 15% of all climate-changing gases. And it uses loads of precious fresh water. If you cut down on meat you could save tonnes of carbon, spend less money on the weekly food shop, and have a healthier diet. What are you waiting for?

5. Learn simple fixes for your clothes. Simple maintenance and repairs of our clothes will make them last infinitely longer. That will save you money on buying replacements and ensure that the material doesn’t go to waste.

It’s time to take a more sustainable approach to our natural resources to make sure they’re there for us in the future.

6. Put your food waste to work. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, a compost bin will mean your food waste can be reused to grow your plants. If you don’t have a garden, many local authorities run separate food waste collections to create compost for local parks and gardens. The act of separating your food waste into a recycling caddy has been proven to make people more aware of what they’re wasting – so they can save money by avoiding buying it next time.

7. On your bike. Make as many journeys as possible by bicycle (or foot) to cut down your reliance on fossil fuels

8. Save water. Using less water is always important, but especially while the country is gripped by a heatwave. Save 6 litres of water a minute by turning off your tap while you brush your teeth. Fix leaky taps too – and stop what could be 60 litres of water going straight down the drain every week. More water-saving tips.

9. Switch to green energy now. Choosing a green energy provider such as Good Energy or Ecotricity will significantly lower your carbon footprint.

10. Define yourself through what you do, not what you buy. It’s hard to escape the culture of fast fashion and constant tech upgrades. Manufacturers and ads hammer us with messages to make us feel like we’re missing something. Try to rise above this unsustainable consumerism and define yourself by pursuing what you love – from sports clubs to community volunteering. Why not find out about Friends of the Earth’s local volunteer groups? Your welfare, your wallet and the health of the planet will all benefit from it.

Rachel Kennerley, climate change campaigner at Friends of the Earth, says:

“Our planet isn’t a limitless bank of resources. We can’t simply dip into an overdraft and pay it back later. Natural resources – from trees, to water, to metal – are being gobbled up faster than the Earth can replenish them.

“We’re also struggling to cope with the waste and pollution of all the things we use. We take too much stuff from nature, make it into more stuff– from throw-away plastics to the latest smart phones and fast-fashion. Then, too often, we dispose of it carelessly.

“It’s time to take a more sustainable approach to our natural resources to make sure they’re there for us in the future. We need everything from fashion to technology to be designed with longevity in mind – reducing what we don’t need, using things for longer and then, when we’re finally done with them, recycling them into something new.”

 

Read more about Earth Overshoot Day .

Explore the environmental impact of your smart phone .