Earth Overshoot Day: How you can help #movethedate
August 2nd is a date that should be marked on everyone’s calendar this year. It’s not a new holiday or some kind of special celebration, but sadly, is quite the opposite. This crucial date marks the Earth Overshoot Day for 2017.
Earth Overshoot Day, defined as “the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year”, is sooner this year than it ever has been before. In other words, we are using the world’s resources faster today than we ever have in the past. Consuming over one and a half times the amount of resources our planet can reproduce in a year is not only unsustainable, but is very dangerous.
Though the thought can be easy to suppress while enjoying bountiful lifestyles, at some point we have to consider: what will happen when our planet can no longer accommodate our needs? How will we provide for all humans when enough resources simply won’t exist? The scenario, though nerve wracking, is bound to become a difficult reality given that our rate of consumption is accelerating.
Fortunately there is still time to change our ways and adopt a sustainable lifestyle. Although avoiding a global resource crisis will realistically require an intervention from world leaders, there are countless simple ways we can help #movethedate and reduce our individual footprint.
Given that 50% of the fuel used during city driving is used for acceleration, driving more carefully can decrease the amount of gas you consume.
Drive less when you can, take public transport or ride your bike or walk.
Don’t leave an empty roof rack on your car. This can increase fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 10% due to wind resistance and the extra weight – removing it if you’re not using it is a great idea.
AROUND THE HOME
When purchasing new appliances, look for those with the ENERGY STAR certification to reduce energy use.
Do not leave appliances on standby. Rather, use the “on/off” function on the machine itself. A TV set that’s switched on for 3 hours a day and in standby mode for the remaining 21 hours uses about 40% of its energy in standby mode.
Only do laundry when you have a full load; otherwise you’ll end up running more wash cycles with smaller loads, which uses excess energy. If you have more than one full load to wash and dry, using the dryer two times in a row will save some energy too because the dryer is already pre-heated for the second load. And of course, hang cloths outside on a drying rack or clothesline whenever possible.
If possible, cover your pots and pans while cooking. This keeps the heat in the where it’s needed. Your food will be ready faster and will require less energy to cook.
When your meal is almost finished, try turning off your oven or stove burners early. The remaining heat, in most cases, is enough to finish the cooking process.
In the summer, place a kettle of cold water on the burner when you are finished cooking on the stovetop to absorb the excess heat. The heat goes into the water rather than into your house, and can then be used to water your garden or outdoor plants.
Use smaller kitchen appliances whenever possible. Microwaves, toaster ovens and slow-cookers can use 75 percent less energy than a large electric oven. Also, during the summer, using a full-size oven will heat up your house, leading to an increase in energy used to cool it back down.
In the summer, use the grill to cook outside.
HEATING AND COOLING
Install a programmable thermostat. If you use it to set back the temperature by 10 degrees for eight hours every night, you'll lower your heating bills by 10 percent. A $50 digital thermostat can pay for itself in energy savings in less than a year.
If you’re going on vacation, make sure to adjust your home thermostat.
Think about planting a strategically placed tree in your yard to provide shade for your house. A win-win for your cooling costs and for the environment.
Close your blinds when you leave your house to reduce solar heat gains. Also close the blinds on west-facing windows in the afternoon. Up to 40% of heat gain can be avoided by implementing this simple measure. Using an exterior shading device can further reduce cooling costs by reducing direct sun on walls and windows. These can be mechanical, manual, or passive.
Take shorter showers and turn the water off while shaving.
Weatherstripping your doors and windows can save your lots of energy during both summer and winter.
When you are going on vacation or leaving your home for a business trip, make sure to turn off your water heater while you are gone. Otherwise it will keep heating the water in a sort of “standby mode.”
Replace your lightbulbs - By replacing your home's five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with models that have earned the ENERGY STAR, you can save $75 each year. These typically use about 25%-80% less energy than traditional incandescents, saving you money and saving energy.
Eat more fresh food. Prepared and processed foods require much more packaging and waste products than fresh options. And, eating fresh food is better for your health!
Using reusable grocery bags and produce bags can significantly reduce plastic bag consumption.
Plant an organic garden. Eating produce from a home-grown garden is the freshest, most nutrient-dense produce you can get! The benefits go far beyond great food. By planting a vegetable garden, you are also reducing the transportation end production energy used to pick and deliver your food. A garden can also support the dwindling honeybee population if you include bee-loving plants including sage, basil, lavender, watermelons, tomatoes, cucumbers, and winter squash.
Composting food waste can significantly reduce the amount of garbage you throw away. Food in landfills rots and produces potent greenhouse gases. In 2010, 33 million tons of food ended up in the landfill, enough to fill the Rose Bowl Stadium every day! (EPA). Fortunately, food scraps from produce contain fortifying nutrients for the soil. If you grow a garden, you can recycle your food back into the earth and support the health of your plans.
If you do not have space for a garden, join a Community Sourced Agriculture (CSA) program. CSAs provide regular meat and/or produce supplies that are grown locally and often grown organically. Or buy produce from a local farmer’s market.
HOW DO YOU REDUCE YOUR FOOTPRINT?
We'd love to know how you take care of Planet Earth! Share your ideas on our Facebook page, @E3INNOVATE.