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The term ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ has been used for some time now, but not by many and not often, so the majority of people are unaware that such a calculation even exists, let alone its terrifying and truthful significance.

Earth Overshoot Day is “the point where the world’s population uses more ecological resources than the planet can renew in an entire year. It is calculated by the Global Footprint Network that measures and compares the population’s demand and ecosystem’s supply of resources.” In simple terms, the resources that businesses are taking from the environment are less than they’re putting back. This ecological debt build-up, not surprisingly, is larger in so-called developed markets.

This year Earth Overshoot Day was calculated to happen by July 29th. We have been reaching Earth Overshoot Day earlier every single year since 1970. Dr. Cle-Anne Gabriel of UQ Business School explains the enormity of the situation very well:

“Businesses rely on investors, capital and sustainable income just to survive — let alone profit and grow. The same is true for natural capital and ecosystem services: businesses aim for limitless growth at the cost of ecological health. In the mainstream financial world, when a business begins to fail, assistance may be offered in the form of ‘bailouts’, such as loans or cash infusions, which offer a safety net against bankruptcy. However, when it comes to the natural environment, there is no ecological bailout. To be clear, there is no safety net against ecological collapse. Without nature, without its natural capital and ecosystem services, businesses cease to exist. The very survival of businesses is dependent on nature.”

There are many businesses working very hard to be truly sustainable – Natural Pod included – but I’m acutely aware that we’re very much in the minority and the global consequences are becoming dire.

When you operate a purpose-driven business because those are your values and you don’t know any other way to be, it’s very hard to understand how other companies, big or small, often don’t consider their environmental impact. Especially when this impact affects every single one of us, every single day.

Maybe this is a good moment to explain what I mean by a purpose-driven business, in the hope of causing those in leadership positions to pause for thought and potentially instigate change. Below are mine and Natural Pod’s core beliefs. As a company we live by them each and every day, holding each other accountable and pushing ourselves to always be better. It shows in our work, our products, and how we do business. It shows in our commitment to preserving the environment.

  • We believe in purpose-driven business that places the environment and people before profit.
  • We believe in healthy, safe, inspiring learning environments for students and educators.
  • We believe that better learning environments enrich play, learning and collaboration.
  • We believe well designed, beautiful furniture and spaces foster creativity and innovation.
  • We believe purpose driven business encourages conscious consumption.
  • We believe in protecting our forests and their eco-systems.

If humanity does use up the earth’s resources faster than the planet can replenish them, there really is no going back. If there are no natural resources, then certainly there’s no business; there will be very little of a future at all. What happens when Earth Overshoot Day reaches January 1st? Some people think we’re already out of time. I don’t know about that, but what I do know is that we all – especially businesses – can do something now, right now, by taking up sustainable practices. Making immediate changes will enable us to live into a sustainable future for generations to come.

By Bridgitte Alomes. Founder and CEO of Natural Pod – Originally posted on LinkedIn