Some of us love shopping – it is almost like a hobby. Unfortunately, our consumption habits have a direct impact on the planet. While we all don’t need to be green versions of Marie Kondo (which perhaps would be the ideal situation), it is worth being aware of one phenomenon. Overconsumption. I believe it is needless to say that most of the Earth’s problems exist because of that. Even though the human population was smaller, we are far away from the sustainable consumption model. We eat, build, dig, burn, waste, and break too much, not only for the hedonistic and superficial reasons but also because our everyday living and societies demand that. Our world has been built that way.
Overshoot day reveals our habits
This year, Saturday, August 22 was the Overshoot day of our planet. It means that by that date, we had consumed all the ecological resources and services the Earth was able to regenerate this year. Once again, we severely went over the budget, which means that we would need 1.6 Earths if we wish to keep on living and consuming like this. There are differences between the countries – the most wasteful ones have used their share by February, while the less wasting ones can keep it up until the mid of December. For example, if the population of our planet lived like Canadians, the date would be March 18. Most of the developed countries are over the limits by the end of May. If we all lived like Indonesians, we could get to December 18. There are also countries, which’s budgets don’t go on debt.
How are the overshoot dates calculated? By using ecological footprints and biocapacity. The first one presents the demand side, and the second one is the supply side. (Read more about those here.) To move our overshoot day forward requires us to support the supply system while we make our footprints smaller. It sounds so simple, and it also could be. By consuming less, we don’t only decrease the demand, but also give the supply side a possibility to grow stronger. Imagine the situation when we eat less beef. Instead of destroying the rainforests for the cattle’s soy, the already existing forest can keep on absorbing the waste we generate, like carbon emissions.
How to consume less? We don’t need to become ascetic, but the first step is to think, do we truly need what we are planning to purchase or consume. The amount and material choices follow then. If we already have a perfect set of plastic containers in our kitchen, there is no need to replace them with bamboo ones, just to be more green. When those plastic ones are at the end of their life, they can get a new home or new purpose, but they are not “bad” ones, which should be destroyed immediately. (Not going into toxins of plastic here). Buying too much food “just in case”, and eating meat daily, is definitely on the debt list as well as fast fashion.
Despite one of the leading ideas of this blog is to find more eco products and solutions to use in your life, don’t purchase and waste what you already have. Think twice, buy less, and save money while you help the Earth.
Featured picture: James Armbruster from Pixabay
This article makes me want to try harder. Thanks for this needed reminder.
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Do you think we’ll be able to do this as a society (without pandemics and such like)?
I assume you mean, are we able to decrease the consumption without Nature forcing us to do so by creating a global crisis? We have to try. I don’t know yet what would be a trigger strong enough to get the attention of whole societies without destroying us. So often the wellbeing /welfare has been built on consumption, if not in reality only but also our minds. The beliefs of the societies have to be changed before the action can change. And changing the belief system is utterly challenging because our values are working there. I believe that we have to change, we are capable of it, and we can make the change. That is why I take action.
Eventually, with some luck, what we ask for and demand as individuals will be given from the bigger players such as corporations and governments. How do we get the attention of the individuals first and touch their beliefs is the problem (the planet sure tried already).
So… yes, eventually.
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We are born into a world with bad consumption habits and adult the as our own hence very difficult to break from. Or atleast difficult for masses to break from but possible for a few who gain this awareness and see past the false insecurities and desires.
Very good blog posts of awareness creation pushing one to want to be better. Thanks.