A Debt With Interest: Earth Overshoot Day

We are in deep ecological debt and the interest payments have far reaching consequences for our future.

The Global Footprint Network keeps an annual Earth budget for tracking the ‘income and expenses’ of natural resources.

What they found for 2019 is that humanity had spent the entire yearly natural resources budget of planet Earth by 29 July.

Our demand for ecological resources was so great that the population used up the entire quota by mid-year.


This is not sustainable. It’s not a credit card or overdraft we can dip into and pay back – it’s ecological debt – and we are living beyond our means.

With debt, comes interest payments.

Ecological debt is no different, except the interest payments we make for living beyond our means is soil erosion, air pollution, excessive waste, deforestation, fisheries collapse, food insecurity, rapid extinction of species and climate change.

There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s needs but not man’s greed.

Mahatma Gandhi

We need to stop our mindless consuming and be intentional with our money to create a better future.

Global Debt

Shockingly, Australia reached Earth overshoot day much earlier than the global average.

Australians reached their date by 31 March 2019. They emptied their ecological bank account in just 90 days.

If everyone lived like Australians we would need 4.1 Earths to meet the needs and wants of the people.

Canada was worse, reaching an overshoot day of 18 March, and the USA had an even earlier date of 15 March.

If everyone lived like Americans we would need an astonishing 5 planets worth of resources every year!

A graph showing how many Earth would be needed if the world's population lived like the US, Australia, Germany, Brazil or India
The number of Earth’s needed

Have a look at how other countries of the world compare:

A visual showing the Earth overshoot date by country
Earth overshoot day by country

Historic Records

Back in 1970, humanity didn’t reach Earth overshoot day until 29 December.

However, with population growth and rampant consumerism, every year since then we’ve consumed a years worth of the planet’s resources in a shorter and shorter timeframe.

A graph showing the world's population
World’s Population

Earth overshoot day by the decades:

  • 1970: December 29
  • 1980: November 4
  • 1990: October 11
  • 2000: September 23
  • 2010: August 7
  • 2019 (today): July 29
A graph showing Earth overshoot day from 1970 to 2019

With a projected population of 8 billion people by 2028, it’s imperative that humanity changes their resource hungry and polluting ways.

What You Can Do

The first step is having an awareness about your current lifestyle and its impact on the planet.

A good place to start would be to assess your own personal ecological footprint to find out how many planets would be needed each year if everyone lived like you.

Once you know your personal Earth overshoot day, you’ll be able to make changes to your lifestyle and encourage others by leading by example.

Suggestions to help #MoveTheDate include:

  • Eating a plant based diet
  • Reducing or eliminating any food waste
  • Walk, bicycle, carpool or take public transport rather than drive
  • Avoid single use products or packaging
  • Reuse what you already have
  • Repair any broken items
  • Buy clothing from opportunity/thrift shops
  • Avoid the urge to upgrade
  • Don’t keep up with the Joneses, they are likely in massive environmental and financial debt
  • Don’t buy things you don’t need
  • Avoid mindless consuming of products, be intentional with your money
  • Nurture nature
  • Help rehabilitate habitats
  • Choose clean power if available

Make it real – please comment below with one change you can make today to reduce your environmental footprint.