“Walking not only helps you feel alive, it saves lives.” It’s Earth Overshoot Day, time to get walking


As a planet we are not living within our means, and today is this year’s date by which humanity has used up all the biological resources the Earth is able to regenerate for 2022

Overshooting sucks. When out hiking I am most vulnerable to overshooting when I’m distracted, and end up going the wrong way. 

Sometimes only a small change of plan is needed to save me from embarrassment or exhaustion. At others, the route leading to the bridgeless abyss indicates that a u-turn is required.

Today is Earth Overshoot Day, the date when humanity has used all the biological resources that Earth regenerates during the entire year. 

According to the Earth Overshoot Day evidence and concept, for the rest of the year humanity is in ecological debt. We’re simply consuming and using nature more quickly than it can restore itself. 

This is averaged across the whole globe. For those of us in the UK, our community outstripped a healthy relationship with the planet ages ago. Our islands’ overshoot day was May 19th, so we’ve already 70 days in debt.

Sometimes backing-up is the only way to make good progress

Each year, much of humanity consumes more of the Earth’s resources, the date moves forward and we overshoot more quickly. We need to turn things around. We need to move the date back to the point where humanity took the wrong turn in our relationship with the planet. Sometimes backing-up is the only way to make good progress. Nature should not only be able to restore itself, but flourish.

From food to TVs, changing our choices of what we consume and how much of it we consume are obvious things we can do to reduce our impact on Earth’s biological resources. According to Earth Overshoot Day, “if we reduced global meat consumption by 50% and replaced these calories through a vegetarian diet, we would move Overshoot Day back by 17 days”. Furthermore, “if we cut food waste in half worldwide, we would move Overshoot Day back by a further 13 days”.

We know you’re into walking…

Walking is a powerful way to move the date back too.

According to Earth Overshoot Day on cities, “personal mobility makes up 17% of humanity’s carbon footprint”. They explain, “if we reduce our footprint from driving by 50% around the world and assume one-third of car miles are replaced by public transportation and the rest by biking and walking, Earth Overshoot Day would move back 13 days” and that “applying the principle of the 15-minute (walkable and bikeable) city to our urban areas would move Earth Overshoot Day by 11 days”.

Walking can contribute something far richer than days to the Earth Overshoot balance sheet though. I asked Andrew Simms, the inspiring economist who conceived the Earth Overshoot concept, why walking is important for turning things around for the planet’s natural systems.

“Something remarkable happens when we walk. We feel better, live longer, solve problems and help to stop the planet burning. It’s not just that walking is a good way to stop outsourcing your personal motion to polluting cars and fossil fuels, it throws you back into connection with the world and reminds you that our lives and livelihoods wholly depend on a healthy climate. Walking not only helps you feel alive, it saves lives.”

What to do?

  • Browse the Earth Overshoot Day Power of Possibility section which is all about the scalable solutions that already exist. Don’t give in to doom, but do learn about these and promote them and incorporate them any way you can!
  • Keep on helping Slow Ways create a national walking network. Through this project we are changing how people think about journeys, and we have the capacity to challenge orthodoxy and contribute to policy too. Get started with Slow Ways here.

Dan Raven-Ellisonhttp://danravenellison.com
Dan is Slow Ways' Chief Exploration Officer and Founder. Dan's a Guerrilla Geographer, National Geographic Explorer and lives in Exeter.