Earth Overshoot Day (also called as Ecological Debt Day) is calculated as the ratio of world biocapacity and world ecological footprint multiplied by the number of days in a year. An earlier EOD or EDD just means that we are consuming our resources at a faster rate than previous years.
One would agree that we, the humans are making a lot of efforts to reduce pollution. There is a positive change in our mindsets, we are using more and more eco-friendly products. Industries are discharging significantly fewer pollutants, that too after adequate treatment. Consumers are buying products which are reportedly less polluting. In any sector you may look, there is a definite positive change.
So, what is the problem that we are not able to get the desired results? In fact, I prefer to see the whole issue in a different perspective. First imagine we, the humans are nothing but another species of animals. Dog, cat, tiger, elephant, human, giraffe, buffalo or even birds and fishes. Each one is in a significant number. Millions of dog, thousands of elephants, billions of fish and so on and so forth. Sea is full of fish, and we do not hear that the fishes are creating pollution.
Well, the question can be answered just by looking at the “Earth Overshoot Day”, which is appearing earlier and earlier every year. During 2013 to 2018, it has shifted by 20 days.
Coming back to us- humans-, we are a special species which has evolved different ways for comfortable living. As far as we are living purely as an ordinary animal, there would be no problem. But, we have great brains and have used our wisdom to develop techniques to have a comfortable lifestyle. We have built homes, schools, hospitals, roads for better transport etc. We have started wearing clothes to protect ourselves from changing the climate. That is, again, not a big issue though creates an impact on the environment.
But, the problem appeared when we started moving beyond ordinary comfort. Each member of the family needs a separate room, plenty of clothing, a lot of electricity usage for individual comfort, changing food habits involving increased wastage, cooking time and efforts, luxurious furniture… etc. Aren’t we moving from comfort to luxury? Let me go ahead in a few details to explain. Personal hygiene is a must, and there is no doubt about it. For that taking a bath daily is acceptable. Using soap, shampoo to clean yourself may also be justified in several cases. But, while you are living in a clean atmosphere, why the excess use of soap and shampoos should be promoted? Our clothes are clean after whole days of work, thanks to the comfort and facilities provided in our home and offices. Still, we wash clothes, well to remove the sweat smell. But, have you noticed that the quantity of detergents we use is increasing day-by-day. Similarly, today we love to go to the gym by car to run bicycle there just to keep ourselves fit.
We have collected a lot of excuses during the past few decades to justify our over-consumption. We can clean the atmosphere, we can clean our river water, we can remove pollutants from air and water; but, first we need to remove excuses from our lives.