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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Earth overload day. On August 2, we used more resources than the planet can replenish

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There are approximately 8 billion people on Earth who use far more resources than our planet can naturally replenish and create far more waste than our planet can absorb. That’s why Earth Overload Day was created to show that we are overusing our planet. Thirty years ago it fell on December 19, and in 2023 – on August 2. That’s two and a half months ago.

What exactly is Earth Overload Day? This is the date when the demand and consumption of natural resources by mankind exceeds the Earth’s ability to supply or reproduce them in a year and is calculated by dividing the total natural resources of the biosphere by the world ecological footprint and then multiplying by the number of days in a year. This is how we know that world consumption is at a level of as much as 1.7 of the planet’s resources.

According to Eurostat, Poles do not differ significantly from the EU average. The report “Consumers and the circular economy” shows that we buy much too much, not taking into account ecological costs. Consequently, The Ecological Debt Day for Poland fell on May 2. In May, apart from Poland, the National Ecological Debt Day also fell on i.a. In GermanyFrance and Japan. Is consumption on such a large scale really necessary?

How is consumption defined?

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– When manufacturing products, man affects the environment – directly and indirectly – in many ways: starting from the consumption of resources such as water, minerals, soil, to emissions of pollutants to water, soil, air and disruption of natural structures and processes. Realizing all these consequences related to the consumption of one product should encourage the purchase of goods that are really needed and those whose production is as neutral as possible for the environment – comments Dr. Eng. Krystian Szczepański, Director of the Institute of Environmental Protection – National Research Institute, implementing the Klimada 2.0 project.

Waste affects not only the household budget, but also has economic, social and ecological consequences that go beyond the individual dimension.

– In Poland, every second throughout the year, nearly 153 kilograms of food are thrown into the bin in the entire food chain, and as much as 92 kg in Polish homes. It is as if every day, throughout the year, every second, Poles throw away 184 loaves of bread only in their homes – comments Robert Łaba from the Institute of Environmental Protection – National Research Institute, who, as part of the PROM project, conducted a study on food losses and waste in Poland.

Food production is a significant burden on the environment, including water and energy inputs that are wasted along with food waste. Throwing away 1 kg of pork wastes about 6,000 liters of water used to produce itand 1 kg of bread thrown away equals 1,600 liters of water.

What can consumers do to reduce waste?

Changing the way we think and our habits requires effort, but it is extremely important for our planet. The idea of ​​”zero waste” is becoming more and more popular, which literally means “zero waste”. As the Institute of Environmental Protection – National Research Institute reminds, its most important principle is the 5Rs:

1. Refuse 2. Reduce 3. Reuse 4. Recycle 5. Rot – Compost

Living according to the 5R principles is aimed at reducing the amount of waste generated by households, limiting consumption, reducing the number of ill-considered purchases and food waste.

The mere reduction of the amount of waste produced will have a positive impact on the natural environment and reduce the amount of pollution. Currently, only 43 percent of us decide to repair broken electronics and 37 percent. for the service of household appliances.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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