Landing on August 22, the Earth Overshoot Day 2020 will come three wakes later than last year! – by Karolina Fabianova and Martina Forbicini

Have you ever heard of Earth Overshoot Day? You might have not, but you have probably heard about the Ecological Footprint. Ecological Footprint is a metric that measures the demand on and supply of nature and ecological resources and services. To put it simply, it is telling us how much nature we have and how much we use. If you are interested in how your daily habits impact the environment and you haven´t measured your Ecological Footprint yet, do it now! You can try it out here! Sometimes we don’t even realize what impact our daily activities such as driving by car or eating at a restaurant can possibly have. By calculating your personal Ecological Footprint, you can find out how many planets would we need if everybody lives like you. What is even more interesting is finding out your personal Overshoot Day which represents the day you will have used up your personal Earth’s resource budget for the entire year. 

But let’s make it less personal and let’s talk about humanity. As you might expect, our current lifestyle is not sustainable. So how many Earths do we all actually need? Just as the Ecological Footprint, the Earth Overshoot Day is presented and calculated every year by Global Footprint Network. Earth Overshoot Day identifies the calculated date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. By the numbers, we currently need 1.6 planets to support our demand on Earth’s ecosystems. That means we use 60% more than what can be renewed. We only have 1 planet though, and this number, alongside the current extreme climate events and environmental disasters, should be a clear warning that we have to repair our home. Another alarming number is that 60% of overall humanity’s Ecological Footprint is carbon. Although there are already many ambitious carbon-neutral projects and initiatives, we need to do even more and act quickly. Now that everyone has understood the ecological emergency we’re in, it is time to make radical and necessary decisions because the solutions for improving our sustainability are not out of reach. 

So what we can do to delay the Earth Overshoot Day as much as we possibly can? We are bringing you 7 ideas how to #MoveTheDate: 

  • Show that you care and be proactive! Baby steps count – Start with the small things that you can easily do while scrolling on your phone. Take part in the surveys (like “Time to question” campaign by Refedd, where you can share your thoughts about tomorrow’s world), share the positive news on social media , spread awareness, or join some movements or organisations. YEE is leading a network of more than 40 youth-led NGOs from 26 countries: check our member list to get in contact with them!
  • Educate yourself – It is never too late to learn. Take courses, online trainings and educate yourself and then educate your family and friends, colleagues. Every week, on YEE Facebook and Instagram, we post the latest opportunities from us and our member organisations or partners: workshops, seminars, online discussions… Make sure to follow us to be always updated! 
  • Rethink the way you meet your basic needs, it is very powerful to influence and improve sustainability. Sourcing your consumption locally can significantly lower your ecological footprint! Avoid buying highly processed products containing chemicals or pesticides. And we are not talking only about the food but also your clothes, toiletries, cosmetics. Support your local entrepreneurs and companies, think about buying products with eco labels, support sustainable brands… So, unprocessed, unpackaged and locally grown! But you can also grow your own gardens! Take inspiration from our member organisations switching to sustainable products during # YEEearthdaychallenge!
  • Be aware of the environmental hazards represented by meat production and consumption. You don’t necessarily need to be completely vegetarian or vegan; you can start by preferring a restaurant that doesn’t have a vast choice of meat in its menu, avoiding meat fast food chains or simply starting your own Meatless Monday.
  • Reduce unnecessary material consumption and think twice before purchasing an item. Do you really need that new pair of shoes? Or that new desk for your bedroom? If you really need it, just check alternative options: second-hand shops, online marketplaces Read our interview about Circle Center Lund – NGO in Sweden where you can borrow rather than buy, fostering a circular economy!
  • Be conscious about your travels. Try to reduce your carbon emissions by using public transport or bikes. Commuting by bus or train can be helpful to use that time to do something else: reviewing your job presentation, studying your notes, texting friends or even watching your favorite tv series! YEE is partnering with Generation Climate Europe and others to empower and build up the capacities of young Europeans to advocate for sustainable and inclusive mobility!
  • Reduce your waste, sort it, and reuse things! Get inspired by our friends from Zero Waste Bulgaria who teaches these principles to kids at schools. Read the interview here!


If you want more ideas on how to #MoveTheDate, check out this page for more inspiration. Of course, it’s not only an individual choice, countries play an important role in shaping the way cities are built, making sure transportations are efficiently working, implementing decarbonisation of the economy as well as addressing population growth and food safety. Us, as people, we need to urge our governments to do more and to do it quickly. The way we manage Earth’s resources is pivotal to our existence, we depend on our planet. But its resources are limited while our innovation and capacity to do better – for us and for it – is almost unlimited. But we need to act now.

Change is not easy, but here is some good news to keep you motivated! The Earth Overshoot Day 2020 lands on August 22, coming more than three weeks later than last year. This year’s date demonstrates the 9,3%  reduction of our Ecological Footprint from the beginning of the year to the Overshoot Day compared to last year’s scenario. It is a historic shift in the long-term growth of humanity’s Ecological Footprint, which is a direct consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic induced lockdowns around the globe. The major drivers behind this event are decreases in wood harvests and CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. Although this year has demonstrated that shifting our current ecological resource consumption trends in a short period of time is possible, we should live within our planet´s ecological budget by choice rather than by disaster.


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