Nature's Path Blog

Earth Overshoot Day: What's Your Ecological Footprint?

Posted by Courtney Sunday on November 28, 2017 under Organic News & Sustainability

Happy belated Earth Overshoot Day!

Wait … is that not a thing?

Earth Overshoot Day fell on August 2, 2017. By that point, we had used more from nature than our planet could renew in a whole year. Overfishing, overharvesting, overemissions of carbon dioxide …you've probably heard all of these terms in a Netflix documentary or two.


Earth Overshoot Day: What's Your Ecological Footprint? | Nature's Path


I decided to take the test and learn how many planets it takes to support my lifestyle. I had some good habits, such as walking everywhere and rarely driving a car. My partner had lovingly bullied me into turning off lights and unplugging devices that weren’t in use. Yet I certainly wasn’t an environmental saint. A prolific traveller, I have been on many planes in the last ten years. As I answered each question, I unironically drank iced coffee out of a disposable cup.

I was as honest as I could be, cringing as I fessed up to my habits and happy when I could admit my minimalist lifestyle and propensity to buy only when something breaks (iPhone 4 … I’m looking at you!) I eat mostly vegan. I recycle my butt off.

I started to breathe easier. How bad could I be?

Apparently, not great. If everyone lived like me we would need three and a half earths. THREE AND A HALF.

My personal overshoot day is April 14. Ouch.

(Honestly, I was so embarrassed, I almost lied about it. But own your truth, right?)


organic food promo code


This was a huge wake up call. Apparently my leg powered, vegetarian self needed a swift kick in the behind. Quite honestly, I felt ashamed. I love this planet. My food and shelter and goods emissions were small. My mobility emissions? Through the roof. The New York Times has called flying the “biggest carbon sin,” so I really shouldn’t have been surprised. One long flight does as much damage as a year’s worth of driving and carbon itself makes up 60% of humanity’s ecological footprint.

“Our planet is finite, but human possibilities are not. Living within the means of one planet is technologically possible, financially beneficial, and our only chance for a prosperous future,” says Mathis Wackernagel, CEO of Global Footprint Network.

Take the test - not to feel badly about yourself, but to get real. The results will end with some tailor-made solutions. How might you improve this number, little by little? Mine was fairly obvious – consolidate trips, fly less, and when I do fly, go carbon neutral. There were also other fantastic ideas, such as challenging my city’s leaders to support sustainability policies.


Earth Overshoot Day: What's Your Ecological Footprint? | Nature's Path


You might start by improving in one of four areas: food, cities, population and energy. Getting competitive with yourself in this particular area of life can have a worldwide impact and you can work towards becoming a footprint champion. You can even win swag by moving your date forward.

I am working on it. Talk to me in a year, because I can’t keep on taking more than this earth has to offer.



Written by Courtney Sunday

Courtney Sunday

Courtney Sunday is a writer, health coach yoga teacher with messy hair, sloppy handstands and a big smile. She is most proud of the stamps in her passport, her fierce loyalty and her ability to cook in any sized kitchen. Courtney runs teacher training sessions and yoga retreats and her first book on mindfulness will be published in the spring 2018. Find out more about her at