Earth Overshoot Day
In 2019, the Earth Overshoot Day is July 29th. This is the day where we will have used more from nature than our planet can renew in the whole year. Since the first earth overshoot day in 1970, when the date was December 29th, this date has been getting earlier each year.
Last month Jesuit Missions staff and supporters joined 12, 000 individuals at the climate change lobby outside parliament where they lobbied their MP’s asking them to push for a net zero carbon UK by 2045.
Staff members Stephanie and Lynn look at their own personal lifestyle habits to see where they are doing well and where they still need to improve to keep their personal carbon emissions as low as possible.
How often do you eat meat or dairy?
Lynn: My husband and I haven’t eaten much beef in years. Probably once a month. We tend to eat chicken and fish, but we should go even more veggie than we do.
Stephanie: I never buy meat anymore; I try and only have it for special occasions when I go out for dinner or to my Grandma’s for a roast dinner! I don’t drink much milk, but I do eat a lot of eggs and yogurt.
How much of the food that you eat is unprocessed, unpackaged or grown locally?
Lynn: We have always tried to avoid things that are processed. Our local greengrocer closed several years ago and that has made it more difficult to buy things that aren’t packaged. At the supermarket we have quit using plastic bags for loose veg and simply take a reusable bag. I am hoping to start getting a veg box from a local grower soon. We also try to grow some of our own food, and I am hoping to get an allotment. However, the waiting lists in our area can take years.
Stephanie: I try and buy as much loose fruit and vegetables from my local market and I also have started going to a local unwrapped shop where I can take my own refill containers for products such as washing up liquid and shampoo.
How energy efficient is your home?
Lynn: In recent years we have had loft and cavity insulation put in. So, the house is more energy efficient than it used to be. I work from home much of the time, so I try to be careful about not having the central heating on too much.
Stephanie: I live in a rented, shared house. Our house is very hot in summer and very cold in winter, so I don’t think it is very energy efficient at all. It’s definitely not double glazed.
How much do you recycle?
Lynn: We recycle glass, plastic, paper… about everything that we can. My husband is very patient because I am an enthusiastic collector of glass jars. These are then used when I make jam and pickles each year. I really find it strange to think back to when I was young, because people got by with little or no plastic. Fruit came loose, milk was in glass bottles and meat was wrapped in paper. It is very disturbing to go through the aisles at the grocery and see all of the packaging. It really isn’t necessary.
Stephanie: I try to recycle as much paper, glass and plastic as possible for the recycling collection. But after watching the recent BBC documentary War on plastic, I worry about how much of that actually gets sorted and recycled or just ends up in a landfill in Malaysia!
How often do you travel by car?
Lynn: I don’t drive, so much of my travel is by public transport. My husband is the driver in the family and we are getting better at walking when we can.
Stephanie: I live in London, so I never travel by car. My most frequent form of transport is cycling.
How often do you use public transport?
Lynn: Frequently. I commute between Glasgow and London for work and almost always travel by train. In both cities public transport is good.
Stephanie: I often use public transport to get in and out of central London and when travelling back up north to see family and friends.
How many plane trips do you do per year?
Lynn: It can vary. Last year I flew three times, all within the UK or Ireland. However, with family in the States there are trips there every couple of years. This Autumn I am going back for a family wedding and want to make certain that I do carbon offset when I book my flights.
Stephanie: I probably do around 5 plane trips on average per year which I know I need to change as air travel is one of the worst contributors to carbon emissions. I recently saw a map showing the countries where the average citizen emits less CO2 in a year than one return trip from London to Rome.
Is there anything else you consciously do to reduce your carbon footprint?
Lynn: I have always been a fan of ‘upcycling’. There are so many good and useful things in charity shops, ranging from clothes to crockery.
Stephanie: I hardly ever buy new clothes. I try really hard to only buy from charity shops or do clothes swaps with friends. It really shocks me that the fashion industry is one of the largest polluters in the world.
What do you find the hardest to change?
Lynn: I have a weakness for clothes. It is an area that I need to work on. I have long tried to be careful of buying items that are from places where the labour force is being exploited. It is fun to think that if you keep an article of clothing long enough, it usually comes back into fashion. My daughter wears a sweater that I bought 35 years ago and it still looks great.
Stephanie: I have really tried hard in the last few years to reduce my meat intake and single use plastics, and to cycle more. But I really find it hard to cut down on my plane travel in an era of cheap flights and easy travel!
You can find out your personal earth overshoot day here.