Sept. 25 2009 is Earth Overshoot Day

earthToday is Earth Overshoot Day – the day when humanity has used up the amount of natural resources that ought to last a year if we were to live in a sustainable manner. After today, we begin living beyond our ecological means and adding to our ecological debt.

In 2008 we reached this point on September 23. So, despite a recession and growing awareness about the climate crisis, we’re only a couple days ahead of where we were last year and a whole month behind the 2007 marker.

While the numbers may not be perfect, the concept is clear. And since we’re all part of the problem, last spring I decided to try to be part of the solution and see what kind of a difference I could make to myself.

The first thing I tried to reduce was electricity usage and started tracking my progress last April. Since then I’ve been good about keeping the air conditioner off and, while that’s likely a big part of my success, there’s more to the story.

I turned down the temperature on the water heater, bypassed the dryer and hung my clothes outside to dry. Now my whites are whiter and everything smells great.

I also avoided using the oven, discovering some exciting new recipes for stove-top cooking and innovative salads in the process.

And, while the energy-saving value of fluorescent light bulbs has been getting a lot of air play, I found turning them off works even better. That was easy enough to do so I started turning other things off, such as computers, monitors and other electronics when they weren’t in use.

There was nothing especially difficult about anything I did, just a little conscious effort to change some old wasteful habits.

The rewards are great. I feel good about taking action to live more lightly on the earth and I’m also saving money. Since last April I’ve reduced my electricity usage – and my electric bill – by an average of 41%.

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