Posts Tagged ‘sustainability’

SLOW DOWN!!! Earth Overshoot Day

desert bare

This red-letter day each year comes around on a different date…and I am bummed it is so early in 2019…July 29! In this case, RED letter is bad news.

Today is Earth Overshoot Day—the day the scales tip OUT of our favor. This is the day that humans have used up the maximum resources that the earth can replenish in a year. Starting tomorrow, we are digging too deeply, past what can be renewed. This day is creeping up earlier every year—just a few years ago we hit this point in mid-October. Now it is in July.


We keep getting more efficient at screwing ourselves up!

Most often, in life, it is beneficial to be ahead of schedule for things — better than the alternative, being late. Well, when it comes to annually using up our world’s resources, the early bird doesn’t get the worm…the early bird probably only gets hungry, and thirsty, and hot…

…very hot.

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year. The Global Footprint Network measures humanity’s demand for, and supply of, natural resources and ecological services, and at some point on the calendar, we get to the point where we are in a deficit compared to what can be provided, so we are technically chipping away resources, increasing tonnage of waste, exhausting the supply of potable water and fertile land, and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. In banking terms, we are drawing down the earth’s principal rather than responsibly living off the interest.

Ecological overshoot is a non-sustainable way of life and possible for only a limited period of time before we degrade the system so far that we end up with water shortages, desertification, soil erosion, reduced cropland activity, overgrazing, rapid species extinction, collapse of fisheries, and increased carbon concentration…sound familiar?


Our global overshoot has more than doubled since 1961. According to Global Footprint Network, we are now living large, literally, as it would take much more than our single Earth to actually support our current consumption, and predictions state we would require two entire planets to support our usage trends by mid-century. Use THIS TOOL to calculate your own personal ecological footprint, and see, if everyone lived like YOU, how many Earths we would need to support that kind of life. It can be shocking.

Only 14% of our world lives in countries with more biocapacity than usage footprint, including Australia, Canada, Finland, Chile, and Brazil. The United States is squarely in the not-so-happy red zone, using more natural resources than we can possibly provide.


Here are some ideas to #MoveTheDate (trying to push the date we move into the red zone LATER on the calendar)

THAT would be progress, and YOU can definitely play a large part!

Hyper-locally… It’s How We See Real Change With Green Wish

1433783_84196577It can get a little challenging looking at all the world’s issues you’d like to tackle and solve, but never feeling certain that your drop in the bucket ability to serve really has an impact. As the old adage goes, the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, so to nip donor and volunteer burnout in the bud, it might help to focus very, very close to home.

Hyper-local support is what Green Wish is all about. They are a non-profit that gives funding and support to other non-profits dedicated to green and sustainability issues. Every twelve months they rotate into supporting new organizations that are having successful impacts on their communities. Most of the supportees are small, grassroots projects that have already demonstrated success in their green missions before Green Wish will get behind them, and they prioritize those that focus on issues affecting many aspects of our environment: air, water, earth, sustainable education, etc. When people see measurable improvement in their own neighborhoods, they/we are buoyed and inspired to give even more. Look! It mattered! How great is THAT feeling?

It’s an open-source avenue for green giving and service, and its successes can be seen close at hand. Schools, businesses, retailers, and other organizations get involved as much as we individuals, and demonstrated change becomes cause for celebration. They are actively looking for volunteers as well as those inspired to launch new local chapters, so check them out, and get tucked into effort that truly pays off for all of us.

Heifer International Study Tours

Tanzania Cow: Photo courtesy Heifer International / Jake Lyell

I’ve always loved Heifer International, since ages ago when I got a brochure with Susan Sarandon talking about how easy it is to buy a farm animal, or even a super-affordable share in a farm animal, and donate it to people in poverty regions around the world. I loved how tangible the concept was of purchasing a goat (or share of a water buffalo, or flock of chicks, or hive of bees, or cow, or…) for a family in South America (or Africa or Europe or North America or Asia…) who would then have milk for themselves to alleviate hunger, as well as have enough to sell at market to better their lives. I loved even more the concept that the first-born from that goat would then be passed on to another family in the community, and I was hooked. Donations in the name of a loved one to Heifer became my holiday gift of choice.

So here’s the part I didn’t know, as the organization has grown mightily over the years. Heifer has study tours to project sites in amazing places in the world. We can travel with the organization crew and guides to Bolivia and Uganda and Cambodia and Kosovo and many other destinations where hard, life-changing work is going on every day. From their own description about the tours: All of Heifer’s Study Tours let participants observe Heifer’s model of sustainable development in action. While projects vary widely, visitors might see a bio-gas unit generating power from manure in China, meet the alpacas that help farmers subsist in the fragile high altitudes of Ecuador or see families harvest honey from their bee colonies in Poland. Some tours focus on specific issues like gender equity, agroecology, HIV/AIDS, animal well-being, microenterprise and education.

All Heifer Study Tours take you beyond your ideas about poverty and show you what the human spirit is capable of overcoming. When you meet the communities helped by Heifer, you will be touched by their stories, motivated by their achievements and inspired to overcome the challenges in your own life and community.

What a terrific chance to dip into the stream of changing the world, and come home changed, and ready to take on even more.

November 13,14,15 Green Festival


If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, grab your calendar and make a date for this weekend’s San Francisco Green Festival November 13-15. The event is each day from noon until 7PM at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center.

Your day at the fest will be like a walk through a sustainable community. The organization describes it like this: “It begins with finding solutions to help make our lives healthier—socially, economically, and environmentally. Individuals along with business and community leaders come together to discuss critical issues that impact us at home and abroad. Organizations and businesses showcase programs and products that restore the planet and all that inhabit it. Neighbor-to-neighbor connections are formed, and skills are shared to empower people to create positive change in the world.

Join us at the nation’s premier sustainability event, where you will see the best in green. Enjoy more than 125 renowned authors, leaders, and educators; great how-to workshops; cutting-edge films; fun activities for kids; organic beer and wine; delicious vegetarian cuisine; and diverse live music. Shop in our unique marketplace of more than 350 eco-friendly businesses—everything from all-natural body care products and organic cotton clothing to Fair Trade gifts and beautiful kitchen tiles made from renewable resources.

See the most recent developments in renewable energy and green technology; sample Fair Trade chocolate and coffee (yes, they really do taste better); and learn how to invest in your community, green your home and avoid products made in sweatshops.

  • Green Festival is the largest sustainability event in the world and continues to grow year after year. Click here to learn more.
  • Green Festival is the only green event that screens exhibitors for their commitment to sustainability, ecological balance and social justice using Green America’s green business standards. Click here to learn more.
  • Green Festival offsets 100% of its electricity emissions with clean, renewable energy. Click here to learn more.
  • Green Festival walks its talk: each year it gets closer to being a zero-waste event. Click here to learn more.


Snapshots Extraordinaire

prixDid you ever organize those snapshots from your last vacation, or are they still prisoners of your camera’s memory card? Here’s a little photographic inspiration (and a lot to think about) from around the world…

The Prix Prictet is the world’s first prize dedicated to sustainability and photography. It’s intention is for photographic artists to use the power of still images to communicate crucial messages to a global audience. It is the application of art to the immense social and environmental threats of this millennium.

The photos are haunting and magnificent. Go to the website to see this year’s finalists and previous winners.

From the website: “As Kofi Annan, the Prix Pictet’s Honorary President, said, in awarding the 2008 Prix Pictet to the Canadian photographer Benoit Aquin, “It is my hope that the Prix Pictet will help to deepen understanding of the changes taking place in our world and raise public awareness about the urgency of taking preventative action. The images submitted for the Prix Pictet confront us with the scale of the threat we face and they act to inspire governments, businesses – and all of us as individuals – to step up to the challenge and support change for a sustainable world.”