Earth Overshoot Day | What it is, Why You Should Care and How You Can Help
Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by Global Footprint Network, a global research organisation that equips major decision makers with tools to help the human economy operate within Earth’s ecological limits.
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity has used all the biological resources that the planet regenerates during the entire year. This year, the date falls on Thursday 28th July – the earliest date so far. This means that for the rest of 2022, we're building up a debt to our planet by using resources needed for future years.
Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of resources it can generate that year), by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (our demand for that year) and multiplying by 365 (the number of days in a year).
We’re building up our debt by depleting stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In 1971, our overshoot day was in December; 50 years later, we are now almost half a year earlier. To sustainably support human life in 2022, we would need 1.75 Earths, which we obviously don’t have!
Many countries do not have an overshoot day, as they do not exceed natural resources on a yearly basis. These countries include Afghanistan, Morocco and Cambodia. There are countries, however, that far exceed their ecological budget. The image below illustrates where Earth Overshoot Day would fall if everyone in the world lived how other countries do.
If the whole world lived how we do here in the UK, then Earth Overshoot Day would fall on May 19th. While this is better than a lot of other countries, it is still not good enough. We have a duty to the rest of the world to move our date back!
Planet. Cities. Energy. Food. Population.
Global Footprint Network is campaigning and working tirelessly to #MoveTheDate. The greatest potential for large-scale impact comes from the actions of world governments and major organisations. The Network has laid out detailed and actionable solutions to move the date through making changes to our Planet, Cities, Energy, Food and Population.
To hammer home the importance of these solutions, Global Footprint Network has calculated the amount of time Overshoot Day would be moved back by if we implemented these achievable solutions. For example, we could move Earth Overshoot Day back 13 days by halving our collective driving footprint and replacing one-third of car miles with public transport and the rest with active travel (biking and walking). Similarly, reforesting 350 million hectares of forest would move the date back by 8 days.
Perhaps the area in which regular organisations can have the biggest impact is regarding energy. Reducing the carbon component of humanity’s Ecological Footprint by 50% would shift the date by 93 days – more than three months. In addition, off-the-shelf commercial energy-efficiency technologies for buildings, industrial processes, and electricity production could move Overshoot Day at least 21 days without any loss in productivity or comfort. Learn more about the main solutions to Overshoot Day here.
Is a Circular Economy the Solution?
While we of course support any solution that helps to solve this global crisis, we are particularly interested in the solutions where we can have the biggest impact.
One solution which has not been explored is the circular economy. This is an economic model where reuse, refurbishment, remanufacture, repair and eventually recycling are widely used, ending the current “take, make, waste” economy.
This approach process keeps products and resources in use for as long as possible, lessening demand on Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) as well as many other resources. By reusing what we have, rather than mining new materials for manufacturing, we can decrease the rate at which we use our planet’s resources and push back the global Overshoot Date.
By creating a circular economy, we do not only save the resources needed to create products, but we can reduce emissions during the manufacturing process itself. Between 75% and 85% of a laptop’s carbon footprint is generated in the manufacturing process; similar levels of CO2e are produced across technology devices.
Remanufacturing, reusing, refurbishing and repairing are less energy intensive than the initial manufacturing process, so a circular economy decreases the amount of carbon emissions required to support our standard of living. Even recycling, the last resort of a circular economy, is less energy intensive than manufacturing within the technology sector.
With this in mind, could the circular economy be the solution? If a circular mindset to the manufacturing, purchasing and disposing of goods took hold on a global scale, our consumption of the earth’s resources would be drastically reduced, moving the date of Overshoot Day for a more sustainable future.
How Techbuyer is helping to Move the Date?
As a provider of sustainable IT solutions and a vocal advocate for the circular economy, Techbuyer is doing what it can to move the date. Our business model and services centre around expanding the lifespan of IT hardware to prevent valuable resources and devices from ending up in landfill.
Our refurbished hardware offers a more sustainable alternative to new devices and extend the productive life of precious resources like CRMs, which all helps push the date of Overshoot Day back.
We are also dedicated to improving the environmental impact of our business. This year, for instance, we electrified 25% of our van fleet.
Plastic waste is another key issue for us, and we’ve introduced measures to cut our impact here, too. These include the introduction of sustainable packing at our Harrogate-based HQ and using recyclable plastic in our 3D printers. Find out more about these initiatives here.
In 2019, we committed to three of the 17 UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development. As part of these goals, we set ourselves three targets against goal 12, Responsible Consumption and Production. Our focus is diverting technology from landfill, keeping waste in use by donating it as a resource, and promoting sustainable technology to organisations. Each of these targets help change the date of Global Overshoot Day by ensuring that resources are used to their fullest potential and a circular economy is encouraged.
However, it is going to take a global effort to make a lasting and meaningful change. The Earth Overshoot Day website has a treasure trove of resources, information and research-backed ideas to help you make a difference on an individual or business level.
Find out what you can do to help here or click below to find out your personal Overshoot Day.
Techbuyer’s Sustainable IT Solutions
For a more sustainable take on technology and IT solutions that offer high performance without costing the earth, get in touch with our expert team. Alternatively, find out more about our sustainable IT solutions and what we can offer you here.
Becoming a Sustainable Business
Techbuyer is a global provider of sustainable IT solutions. It won Sustainable Organisation of the Year at the UK IT Industry Awards in 2021 and Circular Economy Organisation of the Year at the IEMA awards 2020.
In episode two of our podcast series, created in collaboration with the Leader’s Council, our Sustainability Lead and Chartered Environmentalist, Astrid Wynne, talks about what it is to be a sustainable business.
Listen to the full podcast below. Click here to learn more about our new podcast series.
Read the full podcast transcript here.