August 19th – It’s Earth Overshoot Day again – and it’s not worth celebrating.
Today is the day that our consumption of natural resources for this year exceeds the planet’s ability to replenish. That means that every day after today for the rest of the year, we are drawing on resource stocks: using soil for agriculture that won’t have time to replenish itself, and accumulating more CO2 in the atmosphere than the trees can pull out. Overshoot day came a day earlier this year than last year, which means that we are continuing to use more resources than we have.
It’s scary, but it’s also a challenge (and achievable mission!) to all of us to live more sustainably. We can’t turn back the clock this year, but we can make a difference for 2015 and beyond.
Here’s what we can do in our homes to live more sustainably.
1. Don’t waste the “ugly” fruit.
Americans throw away between 30-50% of their food. A small, simple solution is to mark an area in your fridge as “eat now” so you throw away less food. Also, “embrace the good, the bad and the delicious.” See what officials in Kenya dined on in 2013. Pretty awesome!
2. Turn on the fan!
As the end of summer nears, try avoiding air conditioning. In our house, we got a super-efficient ceiling fan that cools us down.
3. Caulk, and use curtains.
One of the cheapest items at the hardware store can be a huge help in reducing the energy you use at home: caulk. Caulking around doors, windows, floor edges and outlets can insulate your home. A side benefit for us was that it also helped keep the ants outside for good!
4. Switch out your light bulbs.
Old incandescent bulbs produce too little light for the amount of heat they produce. The newer ‘squiggly’ light bulbs, compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) are better. The very best are LED bulbs though. They use very little electricity, and the newer styles produce a light that will make you look great while you save the planet.
5. Go Solar!
Solar panel prices have dropped around 80% in the past 5 years. Installing solar on your home is one of the most important things you can do for the planet because your electricity will be coming from the sun instead of from burning fossil fuels that cause climate change. The best news is that in over a dozen states, this can be done without paying any money upfront. Get a quote quickly at www.worldwildlife.org/solar. You can save money and the planet at once!
Those are my top five tips for the home.
And if taking all this action at home makes you want to mobilize our governments to do more, join us on September 21 in New York City for the People’s Climate March, and then in November, vote for a candidate who puts a priority on sustainability. This overshoot day, you can commit to change your light bulbs, change your government, and change the world!
Visit worldwildlife.org/overshoot to learn more.
Earth Overshoot Day highlights the day when humanity has reached the point in the year when the earth can no longer produce enough natural resources (like forests and freshwater) to sustain our rate of consuming vital things that come from those resources (like our food, water and energy).