How many planets do you need?
“You take too many flights! You buy too many clothes! Do you also eat meat?!? It is so bad for the plant!” If you talk with any climate activist, it is likely you have heard these accusations. But why? What is it based on? And who determines that there is a limit and where this is?
Earth Overshoot day
In 2006 the first Earth Overshoot campaign was launched, by those people who wanted to show how much is too much. They look at several categories, for example the amount of energy use or how many trees are logged. By adding all these components, it is possible to make an estimation about how much “Earth” we are using. And thus, when we overshoot the available resources.
In short, one could say it is the reason we started this project. We want to pass this planet on to our (possible future) children and we would like them to have access to the same resources as us. Because if we don’t, what does this future look like? A scary example is given in the movie Interstellar: droughts, failed harvests and a lack of clean drinking water.
Earth overshoot day works from a specific concept: on which day, starting from the 1st of January, have we used our stock of resources for one year. The trend of the past decade shows that every year this day takes place earlier. Both 2018 and 2019 had Earth Overshoot Day on July 29. It is estimated that in 1970 Earth Overshoot Day took place on December 29.
So what about me?
“Okay cool”, you might think, but that says nothing about my behaviour. True, and that’s why the Global Footprint Network developed a test to calculate your own impact on the planet. This is done by the concept of an ecological footprint: just as you leave footprints on the sand when walking on the beach, you leave an ecological footprint on our planet with personal choices and behaviour. And if all 7 billion people on this planet would have your lifestyle, how many planets would we need to remain healthy?
We took the test, which led to some shocking results, as you can see in the figure below. Being a vegan, using renewable energy and taking mostly the train or bike, I still reach an ecological footprint of 3.2 Earth*. Which means that if everyone adopted my lifestyle, Earth Overshoot day would be on the 26th of April. Shocking! And to put this into perspective: it is estimated that at the moment our whole human population uses about 1.7 planets yearly. We are in fact doing a horrible job!
Michelle’s results from the Earth Overshoot Day test[/caption]
Find the balance
Even if we can’t predict all effects of this Earth robbing, it is a risk that we put on our future generations. They will be born in a world full of problems. So what can we do?
In our project you will find a few short suggestion for each article, as we would like to show that make the necessary change might be easier than what it looks like. Together we want to find a balance between comfort and responsible living.
-Check out local fresh food: Who said that Supermarkets are the only way to get groceries? Have a look at that small shop, you could find the best food ever! Check the labels of the products, where do they come from? Or just ask!
– Avoid the car as much as you can: Take the bus, train, metro or bicycle instead. In these days the mobility offers a lot of opportunities, in particular in the cities. So why not try a new way to move and save some money on parking?
So, what’s next?! In our project we will aim to decrease our ecological footprints to 1 or – even better- less. Are you interested to follow us on this journey? Or even join our journey?
Test your footprint!
Interested to find out what your ecological footprint is? You can do the test here:
Let us know your results in the comments!
Click here for more info about the project.
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*I should make a small note on the fact that 2019 is a year full of flights, as I finished my backpacking adventure and I have travelled quite often by plane to visit Antonio. This situation is not ideal, but because of our jobs we couldn’t find other moments to see each other without taking a flight. Hopefully this situation will change in the next months.. Follow us to find out!