How many Planet’s do you need?

21 Aug


Apparently yesterday was Earth Overshoot Day, the day when humanity exhausts Nature’s budget for the year. From this day forward, the Planet will be operating under an ecological deficit, using more resources than the Planet  can produce and emitting more carbon dioxide than the Planet can filter out.


Originally developed by the New Economics Foundation…who I admit I’d never heard of…Earth Overshoot Day has been falling by a few days earlier each year…an indication of ever-increasing patterns of consumption. In 1993 Earth Overshoot Day fell on October 21st. In 2003, it fell on September 22nd.

Secret Village Festival 011

For us to continue consuming resources as we are 1.5 Earth’s are needed. The US, China and Qatar are among the worst offenders. If everyone lived like your typical suburban American it would take four Earth’s to support the population. To live a lifestyle like the residents of Qatar 6.5 Earth’s would be required.


If you go to the site where I got all this info you can calculate your ecological footprint.  I was shocked to find that even though we don’t eat meat or fish…recycle all that we can…grow a lot of our own veg…it would still take 2 planets per year for us to continue as we are. The questions were obviously set for the typical American lifestyle as there was no option for solid fuel heating…no option for alternative energy systems…no option for buying from charity shops or farmer’s markets.  So I don’t really buy the 2 Planets result but still it provided food for thought. I’m sure we could all do more in our everyday lives to ease the pressure on our Planet.  Food for thought indeed…

Go on… do the survey…I dare you.

31 Responses to “How many Planet’s do you need?”

  1. gardendaze August 21, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

    I don’t even dare–first because I live in the US, of course. Next, because I did take one of the “carbon neutral” type surveys one time. Like you, I thought I would have done much better than I actually did. And I don’t do nearly what you all do, primarily because the Spoiler won’t hear of it.

    Thank you, again, for making us all more aware of how far behind we’re falling in our attempts–and helping us to see what more we can do!


    • bridget August 21, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

      It’s high time we all sat up and took notice before it’s too late. We are already beyond the tipping point.

  2. Christina August 21, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    This is shocking, I’ll do the ‘test’ but expect that even though I grow almost all my own vegetables and that our house has very thick walls so keeps cool in summer and pretty warm in winter (it would be better if the windows didn’t let in so many drafts) I won’t score any better than you.

    • bridget August 21, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

      It certainly shook me. I was quite cocky doing it thinking I’d do well…

      • Christina August 21, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

        Yes, me too!

  3. ayearinredwood August 21, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    I scored similar to you! I reckon the bit that got us is living in the country…. we don’t have access to trains or buses… and as for cycling anywhere – you’d never survive.

    • bridget August 21, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

      Could probably cycle to the nearest village…but cycling to town and bringing back the shopping…no way. As you say no public transport service in the country.

      • John Willmott August 21, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

        The logistics of everything has changed so much over the last 20 to 30 years. Up until I was 40 years old cycling was nothing. I barely used a car. My bike and its pannier bags were enough. Cycling 20 miles in about an hour, 90 mins at the most, was nothing. I barely used a car, though with family it was in the car at weekends to go somewhere sometimes, but often they just jumped on their bikes to go somewhere too. We were on an island and there was rarely a need to leave it. Most of our food was from the garden, sea shore and sometimes the forest. We had a neighbourhood food-coop that once a month had dried goods delivered from a large food co-op in Glasgow and they sold and delivered tools too, but the island general co-op had tools at great prices too. We did go to Oban every month or two for fun times, take the children to swimming pool especially, but that was bus and ferry boat. I forever question why my life is not like that now. A lot of this was due to neighbours living the same way … but now the neighbours live very different. Its all supermarkets, indoor entertainments and running the children around in cars to do different things. They have less and less time to be neighbours any more.

      • bridget August 21, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

        I was just talking about the neighbour thing today with our carpenter. We both agreed that people now just sit every night and watch the soaps. So sad. Less community links everyone just looks after their own stuff. We have a few people we barter with mostly plants for veg or veg for plants. Would love to do more but folks generally are not interested. Wish we had a lets again…that was great…Celtic Tiger chased that away. Life on the island sounds idyllic. We lived similarly in Tipperary at that time, grew the food, own milk, own fowl for meat and eggs. The rest was available in the local village or town. Happy days!

  4. John Willmott August 21, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    Very interesting and very curious. I found their minimals were way above my own minimals in many questions. My own indulgences are eating fish at weekends, living alone and maybe I fly somewhere once a year. So with those luxuries I shot up to 2.4 earths.

    • bridget August 21, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

      I don’t buy it myself…well…maybe a little. Even if it makes us think it’s worth doing the survey. Interesting that England and Ireland were’nt options on there.

  5. Small House Under a Big Sky August 21, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    This was shocking to me too. I had thought I was doing so well! I work from home and have committed to just one tank of gas per month driving a 1996 Sabaru that gets 26 mpg. We grow much of our vegetables, some fruit and buy almost 90% locally. I co-op purchase all washing/cleaning supplies and paper goods to keep individual packaging to a minimum. Our household produces no more than one bag of trash for the landfill every two weeks (95% is bought used at Goodwill, rescued from another’s trash or is recycled or composted). I restore and paint (using only VOC free paint) vintage furniture taking what would likely be tossed into the landfill and giving it new life. I do not have a/c, I hang my clothes on the line to dry, I am very judicious with our well water and use a gray water system. I never buy bottled water due to the plastic bottles (use a filter instead) or paper plates. I’m not sure how to cut back any more…..except to take in boarders into my home. Is there any hope?

    Small House / Big Sky Donna / White Oak Studio Design / SW Michigan

    • bridget August 21, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      Exactly! Is there any hope? Our car does 68mpg and I still came out bad.

  6. Christina August 21, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    I came out at 2 like you, but almost all our vegetables are zero miles so I think that should be taken into account, I maybe didn’t factor the solar panel for hot water correctly, but even so I am shocked. I suppose because Italy was really high on number of planets that factored in too. Everybody should at least do the ‘test’, it brings it home to you what we as human beings are doing to our world.

    • bridget August 21, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      Does’nt it just…

  7. KL August 21, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    It was the overshoot day for this year. I read it all these and it’s very depressing.

  8. Jane August 21, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    The options weren’t relevant to the way we live…and the blasted thing kept refusing to change the scale..I’l admit,I gave up!
    Jane x

    • bridget August 21, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

      At least you tried Jane!

  9. snowbird August 23, 2013 at 12:52 am #

    This is a really shocking situation. Like you I do try to be as environmentally friendly as possible……but reading this made me sit up and take stock, we do all have to make even more effort.xxxx

    • bridget August 23, 2013 at 8:22 am #

      Yes! Even if it just makes us work a bit harder at trying to increase our efforts then the survey has achieved something.

  10. Donna@Gardens Eye View August 23, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    Very sad indeed. I will take the test but I live in the terrible American suburbia where we hog all the earth’s resources. WE do not fully understand what this means and for many they don’t care at all.

    • bridget August 23, 2013 at 8:20 am #

      That’s the sad thing…the people who just don’t care…

  11. David Marsden August 24, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    What puzzles and annoys me is the media’s and politician’s talk of economic ‘growth’ – as if that is an unquestioned, desirable state. Nobody seems to address the obvious fact that the planet’s resources are finite and that it simply isn’t possible to continue exploiting them as we have been. Is no-one in power seriously considering an alternative? They don’t seem to be. Global warming melts the ice at the Poles and oil companies just see it as another drilling opportunity. Makes you weep. D

    • bridget August 24, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

      Infinite growth on a planet with finite resources is not possible but the corporate rapists do not want to know this. Driven by greed and lust for power they should all be arrested for crimes against Mother Earth. So sad what’s going on.

  12. Mominthegarden August 24, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    Hi Bridget, I’ve been going to our local pool with my kids this summer. For the past 3 weeks, there has been a tap (faucet) in the ladies room on continuously. I admit, that I waited 4 days to say something to the management. But then, I’ve said something every time I’ve been at the pool. “There seems to be a problem” I’ve been told. I asked them if I was the only person who was concerned with the waste of a natural resource??? You know, when I see things like this, I wonder if it really matters if I take longer than a 7 minute shower??? Any thoughts? I belong to the pool, so I don’t really want to get blacklisted, but I *hate* all of that waste! Dana

    • bridget August 25, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

      If the person you reported to has’nt done anything it may be time to go elsewhere. Is it a council run pool? If so I would ring them. Sometimes we can only control what is on our own land.

  13. dilloncruz72 September 2, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    Reblogged this on Livin' the domestic life–permaculture style and commented:
    This is really valuable and sobering info. We can all do things differently.

    • bridget September 2, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

      Thanks for the reblog. We need to do everything we can to raise people’s awareness of the problems each and every one of us on this planet face right now.

  14. Linne January 23, 2014 at 3:39 am #

    Reblogged this on A Random Harvest and commented:
    This survey is worth doing. At least it gives us an idea of where we might make future changes (but don’t wait too long!) ~ Linne

  15. rabidlittlehippy January 25, 2014 at 8:25 am #

    I took it once and was horrified at my score. I did realise however that it doesn’t take into account that although we do eat meat we are setting up to raise as much of our own as we can and that our eggs are raised at home. We also use wood to heat the house and hence we do currently need a 4×4 to haul a loaded trailer of wood from sustainable forests. Still, even taking into account all the good we (all of us, not just my family) do, there are still ways we can all improve I am sure. 🙂 I can think of a mountain of ways which we could work harder and do more to save the planet.

    Great blog. I followed over from 2 of Linne’s reblogs. 🙂


  1. Nature’s amazing amazingness | evolution - August 21, 2013

    […] just learned about Earth Overshoot Day, which basically marks the day when Earth’s available resources have been exhausted for the […]

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