Earth Overshoot Day is the date when humanity’s demand for natural resources in a year exceeds what the Earth can regenerate in that year. In 2020 that date falls on August 22nd, in 2019 it was July 29th – a small improvement, primarily due to the affects of lockdown measures across the globe.
When calculating the date, Global Footprint Network takes the Earth’s biocapacity and divides it by humanity’s ecological footprint for that year. You can see how this year’s date was calculated on their website here.
The campaign #MoveTheDate involves promoting solutions to climate change and reducing carbon emissions, asking individuals to make a pledge that will help us move the date of Earth Overshoot Day. How can the timber industry and construction sector help do this?
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) reported that 62% of total waste accumulated in the UK was down to construction, demolition and excavation.
Using Cradle to Cradle certified products, making a commitment to using a greater number of recycled or repaired materials, using materials that can be easily repaired and reused or using circular design guides are all steps that can be taken from professionals to implement a more circular approach in the design and building of materials.
As a natural and renewable material, wood is well-positioned for circular design, as it can be repaired and reused multiple times. For example, wooden palettes that are no longer able to be used or repaired are often recycled into wood chips which are then used for further products or renewable fuel.
Find out more about these concepts and how wood plays a part in a circular economy here.
Whilst wood is a renewable material, it is critical to ensure it is sourced sustainably. There are a myriad of resources, guides and organisations that can help supply you with information to ensure that your timber products are sourced sustainably.
Forest certification programmes, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) both protect and promote sustainable forest management. They work across the supply chain and industry to ensure that all UK timber imported and exported is legal and certified. They both provide handy delivery checklists and resources to help you check certification of products.
Find out more about sustainable procurement here.
One obvious step to helping #MoveTheDate is increasing the number of trees and forest cover across the globe. Trees help reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, storing it as carbon. The timber products that we can source from forests can replace more CO2-intensive materials, and the replenishing of these trees again contributes to growing forests.
The UK Government has committed to planting 30,000 hectares of trees a year across the UK by 2025. However, statistics from 2019/20 show that only 13,460 hectares were planted in the UK last year, with 80% of this being in Scotland. This ambitious target will be a step towards moving the date for Earth Overshoot Day but further steps are needed to reach this target. DEFRA are currently seeking views on the new England Tree Strategy. You can contribute to this here.
Find out more about our Wood CO2ts less campaign here.
For more information on Earth Overshoot Day visit the website here.