It probably will come as little surprise to you that as a global population, humans use the planet’s natural resources at a rate that far exceeds any sustainable measure. With this in mind, it comes as little surprise that August 8, 2016, the world celebrated “Earth Overshoot Day.” This “holiday” represents the day of the year where the world has officially reached the point where we have used as much from nature as our planet can renew in the whole year.

Yes, that’s right, we’re only into August of 2016 and we,as the Earth Overshoot Day website explains, have already used more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate through overfishing, overharvesting forests and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than forests can sequester. At this rate, we will need a total of 1.6 planet Earths to be able to sustain the human population.

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We don’t know about you … but we find that pretty disturbing.

Earth Overshoot Day is hosted and calculated by Global Footprint Network, an international think tank and nonprofit that coordinates research, develops methodological standards and provides decision-makers with a menu of tools to help the human economy operate within Earth’s ecological limits. While the overall reality that globally, we use more than one and a half planets worth of resources is troubling, to say the least, Global Footprint Network breaks it down even further:

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The fact is, we are living far beyond our means here and a further comparative breakdown by the organization reveals that if everyone lived like Americans, we’d need 4.8 planets to have enough to go around. On the lower range of the scale, if we all lived like Chinese citizens, we’d still need two planets.

What YOU Can Do

On a collective level, we are all responsible for the depletion of natural resources, but it is very clear that certain lifestyles and habits are more resource intensive than others. This might be intimidating to know, but it breaks down to the reality that we all have the power to effect change if we start with our personal consumption habits. Earth Overshoot Day posits responsible population management, creating a more sustainable food system, and efficient city planning as solutions to this massive problem.

While there are many things that we can do on an individual level to lower our impact on the world, one of the easiest and most effective is our food choices.

One Green Planet believes that our global food system dominated by industrial animal agriculture is at the heart of our environmental crisis.  This destructive industry currently occupies over half of the world’s arable land resources, uses the majority of our freshwater stores, and drives greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, this system causes rampant air and water pollution, land degradation, deforestation and is pushing countless species to the brink of extinction. And yet, one in eight people still suffer from food scarcity.

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As the leading organization at the forefront of the conscious consumerism movement, it is One Green Planet’s view that our food choices have the power to heal our broken food system, give species a fighting chance for survival, and pave the way for a truly sustainable future.

By choosing to eat more plant-based foods, you can drastically cut your carbon footprint, save precious water supplies and help ensure that vital crop resources are fed to people, rather than livestock. With the wealth of available plant-based options available, it has never been easier to eat with the planet in mind.

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Lead image source: /Shutterstock