According to Global Footprint Network, today, August 2nd, is Earth Overshoot Day. That is, the date each year where humans have already exhausted a year’s worth of the world’s natural resources.
Earth Overshoot (previously known as Ecological Debt Day) measures the balance between humanity’s consumption with biocapacity, or the Earth’s ability to regenerate those resources. So in 7 months we’ve emitted more carbon than the oceans and forests can absorb, felled more trees and consumed more water than the planet can produce in a year.
In the 1980s, we hadn’t reached this point until November. By the early 1990s overshoot fell in October. It shifted back to September in the millennium and reached 8 August last year. It was earlier still, this year.
Food makes up 26 per cent of our global footprint yet 1/3 of it is wasted worldwide. And if that isn’t sobering enough, only 1/4 of all that wasted food is needed to relieve the 795 million people in the world suffering from hunger and malnourishment.
In the US, we’re serious offenders. Americans discard 70,000,000,000 pounds of food each year. That’s more than 20 pounds per person each month with the average American family of four throwing out $1,600 of food every year. (sources)
The good news is, we can take simple steps ourselves to reduce our own economic and environmental impact by planning our meals and buying only what we need (especially perishable food); boxing leftovers and eating them later (at restaurants and at home), composting food scraps and eating less meat, which is a lot more climate damaging than fruits and vegetables.
According to The Global Footprint Network if we cut food waste in half, ate less protein-intensive foods and consumed more fruit and vegetables, humanity’s total global footprint could be reduced to 16 per cent.
If you’d like to check out your own ecological footprint you can do so here at The Global Footprint Network.