As inhabitants of planet Earth we use up more natural resources in a given year than nature can absorb or replenish. In the past, when the global population was significantly lower, we were able to live ‘sustainably’. But during the mid-1970s, with the global population reaching 4 billion - roughly half of what it is today - we crossed a threshold. The demand we started placing on nature exceeded what nature could regenerate in that year. Earth Overshoot Day was born. On that day we ran out of budget and used up all resources nature should have had for us for the remainder of the year.
Our demand on nature is only partly caused by Earth’s total population. The major factor is our consumption – or, more precisely, our over-consumption. Currently, we need 1,6 planets to sustainably support the current population, taking into account everything from carbon emissions to land used to grow our food. Living an efficient, circular life without over-consuming is key towards a sustainable future.
Earth Overshoot Day 2016
In 1992 Earth Overshoot Day was on October 21. From that day forward we would steal from future generations to come. Ten years later, in 2002, Earth Overshoot Day was on October 3. It is clear that Earth Overshoot Day will happen earlier every year. Last year, the date was August 13, which means that Earth Overshoot Day 2016 is approaching fast – probably around August 8.
Working on a sustainable future
Fortunately, the tide is slowly turning. More and more initiatives, countries and individuals are working on creating a sustainable future. The Circular Economy is one such development, which will reduce the need for virgin raw materials. If virgin materials are required they must be sourced as responsibly and sustainably as possible.
ChainPoint’s Supply Chain Collaboration Software Platform supports multiple companies and standards in reaching their sustainability goals. For example, the Better Cotton Initiative uses ChainPoint to promote the production of sustainable cotton. And The Forest Trust uses the ChainPoint platform to support many companies in sourcing sustainable raw materials.
It will take time before all these developments will reverse the trend we have witnessed year after year with Earth Overshoot Day, but together humanity must and will be able to become sustainable, one way or the other.
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