By Natalie Groves

Working for a company that has sustainability at the forefront of everything it does has certainly heightened my awareness of what I can do to help the environment but regardless, I think I’m doing ok. I lead a sustainable lifestyle.

This year, Earth Overshoot Day was on 2nd August meaning that we have used up the years allowance of resources already. This date is 11 days earlier than what it was in 2015 (Read Alan Fogarty’s blog, Overshoot day – the world is in the red). I was quite shocked by this and when my husband came in from work I told him how scary I thought this was. He was pretty laid back about it and muttered something along the lines of “there isn’t much you can do about it”.

He’s right, though isn’t he? After all, I lead a sustainable lifestyle. I’m doing my bit. I can’t be held responsible, can I?

I’m wrong (and so is he!)

I have just completed the Global Footprint Calculator and despite walking most places, switching my lights and appliances off when they aren’t being used and recycling most days, my personal overshoot day is 21st May 2017. How can I be worse than the world?

My carbon footprint is 55% of my total ecological footprint, probably because I eat meat daily and the food I purchase is heavily packaged and certainly not local. My house isn’t doing me any favours either. I thought it was ok because I’m sensible with my electricity usage, but my lightbulbs aren’t energy efficient and I don’t have a smart meter, to name just a few things.

What’s most frightening is how wrong I was. My ignorance to what a sustainable lifestyle looks like has clouded my judgement on what I should be doing to help move the date of Earth Overshoot Day. If everyone lived a “sustainable” lifestyle like I have been living, we would need 2.6 Earths and this just isn’t right.

My husband was wrong (who doesn’t love saying that?). There is something you can do about it. I challenge you all to take the test and see the impact you alone have on the environment. It isn’t pretty and it certainly isn’t something we can sustain.

So what can you do to help push overshoot day back? Here’s six things you can do to help the environment this year

  1. Eat vegetarian or vegan at least 1 day per week – Amie Shuttleworth has been following a 5:2 diet since 2015 (5 days per week vegan)
  2. Measure your carbon footprint with a smart meter and make improvements – Paul Chatwin has made a significant 25-30% reduction in gas consumption cutting his carbon footprint by 650kgCO₂e
  3. Make your building projects more sustainable – Cundall has recently implemented the Beyond Tool to implement sustainable initiatives on projects
  4. Take part in corporate cycle and travel schemes – Cycle schemes like Mobike offer the opportunity to reduce carbon footprint at low cost as well as increasing personal fitness.
  5. Make a home energy plan and implement some changes – Duncan Cox discussed the benefits of many small and major improvement to his home which could save both energy and water.
  6. Recycle old furniture through non-for-profit organisations – Our Hong Kong office recycled their chairs through The Crossroads foundation limiting the waste for landfill and redistributing goods to people in need.

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Natalie Warne, Sustainability, Sustainable Cundall

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