Have you ever heard of World Overshoot Day? It’s one of those days you wish never existed. Like Valentine's, but worse. However, it’s important to also address the harder things in life, so let’s dive into it.
This article will explain what World Overshoot Day means and how it’s calculated, its relation to the food industry, how we can push back the date and Jimmy Joy’s role in it all.
What is World Overshoot Day?
World overshoot day, also known as ‘’ecological debt day’’, is the day that humanity’s demand of Earth’s natural resources exceeds its capacity to regenerate this demand over the course of the entire year. Overwhelming much? It actually is.
Simply put, from that day to the rest of the year we are living in debt with our planet.
Imagine a hypothetical scenario of only getting paid once in a year on the 1st of January, and that amount has to last you all year round. Now imagine that by the 22nd of August the balance on your account equals zero, but you still have like 4 months to go before getting paid again. So, now you have to borrow from the fund of the next year, and the next year and the year after that. It’s a vicious cycle. Doesn't sound too great, right?
So let's rethink some of our habits and stop the cycle!
Let’s start with some facts.
In 2020 the Overshoot day fell on the 22nd of August. Are you wondering what that means? Here is a little recap:
- 1970: December 29th
- 1985: November 4th
- 2000: September 23rd
- 2015: August 6th
- 2018: August 1st
- 2019: July 29th
- 2020: August 22nd**
Quick calculation: it’s bad, but not as bad as up to 5 years ago*. But still, the last time we almost avoided the overshoot was in the 70’s.
And if you’re curious what your personal overshoot day is and how much you contribute to the ecological footprint, you can use the personal overshoot date calculator by The Global Footprint Network. By answering a few short questions you can see “how many planet Earths we would need if everyone lived like you.” (1)
* Side-note: the impact of economic slowdown due to COVID19 situation, caused a reduction in humanity’s ecological footprint, and thus, helped a lot with moving the Overshoot day to a later stage. For example, The Global Footprint Network claims that the drop in carbon emissions due to coronavirus resulted in 14.5% reduction of the carbon footprint.
** Side-note to the side-note: The shift from 2019 overshoot day on July 29th onto 22nd of August in 2020 represents the greatest ever single-year shift since the beginning of global overshoot in the early 1970s. And experts say we can thank the impact of COVID19 for that. They say look for the positive in every situation, don’t they?
How is World Overshoot Day calculated?
The Global Footprint Network is an organization that calculates the date of World Overshoot Day each year. It’s calculated by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year, or more specifically, all the biologically productive spaces needed to regenerate the world demand) by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand in that year) and multiplying it by 365 days:
(Earth’s Biocapacity / Humanity’s Ecological Footprint) x 365 = Earth Overshoot Day
The Global Footprint Network also came up with a movement known as #movethedate, proposing numerous solutions to do so. They suggest five major areas of humanity for improving our sustainability practices:
You can read more about them here; but since we operate in the food industry we will primarily focus on the aspect of food.
Food and its impact on World Overshoot Day
Food as humanity’s one of the most essential means for survival, also is one of the main contributors to producing the ecological footprint. Hence, the way we source, produce, consume, and dispose food are powerful actions influencing sustainability - and essentially leading to moving the Earth’s overshoot date.
The Global Footprint Network states that the food demand makes up almost a third of the ecological footprint. It can be argued that two main issues of addressing sustainability of food refer to resource efficiency and food waste (2).
We can also recognize that the COVID19 situation heavily impacted the food system, yet, it is believed that no significant changes with regard to food footprint can be accounted for.
Huh, but how?
During the lockdown, a lot of public places were closed down (including restaurants, offices, schools, etc.) Therefore, people ate at home more frequently and thus produced less food waste. Yet, on the production side, the excess demand has balanced that out as the processing plants and farms saw a huge increase in food waste.
National Geographic recently published an extremely interesting article about the future of food, addressing the issue of the world’s growing population. As you may or may not have heard before: the world’s population will hit 10 billion by 2050 (3). “Increasing food production in ways that respect human well-being and the environment presents enormous challenges.” (4)
So, for example, with the population rising by 35% by 2050, in order to feed the world, the crop production will need to double.
Why is that?
Because the middle class of consumers is expanding, bringing along a higher demand for resource-intensive animal-based foods. And because currently, 30-50% of our food is wasted either in the supply chain or in consumption. This amount could actually feed another 3 billion people.
1 in 4 of the calories we create are never eaten by humans. Especially with resource-intensive food such as beef, every 25-30 calories fed to a cow produces only 1 calorie of meat. The rest of the calories are wasted in animal’s utilization to grow parts that end up not even being used for human consumption (5). Or compared to oats, which is our main ingredient: for every 100 calories of oats eaten by animals, they produce only 12 calories of chicken, 3 calories of beef, 22 calories of eggs and 40 calories of milk. So imagine how much more calorie-efficient it is when humans consume oats directly. That's why it's our main ingredient!
The sad part is, it’s not just about wasted calories. In comparison to growing human edible crops, production of meat requires significantly larger amount of land (i.e. Earth’s biocapacity) and thus contributes to far greater carbon footprint, pollution of water, and physical waste among others.
With all this in mind, it’s no wonder why every single major report addressing the issues of feeding 10 billion people in 2050, concludes that a drastic shift towards plant-based food alternatives is a must (e.g. WRI 2019).
Rethinking the food pyramid
If you are like us, a more visual type then you should check out this cool pyramid that we drew for you. So, know your traditional food pyramid, the one you maybe remember from primary school?
The Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition has updated it into the double pyramid of food, that you can see right under this paragraph. It simultaneously assesses the impact a certain food has on both human health as well as the environment. What you can see is that food in the bottom of the pyramid, which is recognized as healthier by health experts and nutritionists, is actually also the food that is better for the planet. So, it’s a win-win.
And the best part is, the individual level solutions that the food experts propose are extremely tangible for every one of us. Starting today, it can simply mean pouring oat milk instead of cow milk in your morning coffee, or replacing mince by lentils in tonight’s bolognese sauce. OR simply enjoying your Jimmy Joy products.
How you can move the World Overshoot Date together with Jimmy Joy
As mentioned, the Food Footprint component primarily consists of two elements - resource efficiency and food waste.
According to The Global Footprint Network it’s believed that if we reduced meat consumption in half, and replaced it by plant-sourced food, the overshoot date would be moved by 5 days.
Moreover, food waste currently being 1.3 billion tonnes every year, or one third of the entire global production; if we cut it down in half, World Overshoot Day would be moved by 13 days (2).
So, what can we do?
Eat more plant-based
Not to repeat ourselves, but yes, we are vegan. In addition, our product shelf life is 12 months and our products are extremely easy to store (click here for more food waste reduction tips). Hold on, did we pretty much just solve the overshoot problem? 5+13=18. Did we just move the date by 18 days? Now all we have to do is get everyone on board. But that should be easy, right? Shop Jimmy Joy products here and let’s move the date together.
What Jimmy Joy is doing to push the date back?
Firstly, as we want everyone to share our joy, we aim to be available in as many countries as possible. But we are also aware that shipping abroad contributes to the creation of carbon footprint. However, transport is actually a very small part of food’s footprint. Less than 10% for most foods. Thus, even the most sustainable animal products are far less sustainable than transported plant-based products.
But we don’t want to just cling to that, we want to be even better – so, we teamed up with non-profit foundation Trees4all, that helps us neutralize our carbon footprint by means of planting trees in Bolivia. We choose to pursue carbon offsetting to help contribute to the restoration of ecosystems and biodiversity and do our part of giving back to society, while still being widely available to our consumers around the world.
Secondly, our R&D team continuously works towards improving the formulas of our products and looks for suppliers, who are as transparent as possible about their sustainability efforts. One of the examples of our more recent product improvements was replacing the omega-3 source. After a thorough research of creating a fully vegan product, we found Ahiflower, which is the single best plant-based, sustainable alternative providing omega 3 and additional omega 6 fatty acids for your immune system. For instance, 1-acre of Ahiflower produces as much omega rich oil as 40,000 mackerel or sardines. And as each year approximately 25 million tonnes of wild fish are used in the production of oil, we are pretty proud to say we are winning the sustainability race (6).
Thirdly, we would like to say we consider ourselves the food of the future, safeguarding the intake of essential micronutrients and contributing to major environmental benefits. But we are always open to improvements and suggestions of how we can do even better.
We are curious how you think we can help the world move the date. Feel free to drop a comment on our forum.
- Earth Overshoot Day. (2020). About Earth Overshoot Day. Retrieved from https://www.overshootday.org/about-earth-overshoot-day/
- Earth Overshoot day. (2020). Food. Retrieved from https://www.overshootday.org/solutions/food/
- Foley, J. (n.d.). Five Step Plan to Feed the World. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/foodfeatures/feeding-9-billion/
- World Resources Institute. (2019). Creating a Sustainable Food Future. Retrieved from https://research.wri.org/sites/default/files/2019-07/WRR_Food_Full_Report_0.pdf
- Leahy, S. (2019). How to feed the world without destroying the planet. Retrieved from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/07/how-to-feed-the-world-without-destroying-the-planet/
- ahiflower. (2020). Retrieved from https://gopher-lilac-arw2.squarespace.com/why-ahiflower