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Earth Overshoot Day: Everything You Need to Know

Did you hear that sound? Earth has set an alarm, and today we’re waking up to it. 2 August 2023 is this year’s Earth Overshoot Day, the date that marks the point at which humanity’s demand for ecological resources in a given year surpasses what the planet can regenerate in that same year.

In other words, we have spent 100% of the Earth’s carbon budget in more than half (58.6%) of the time allocated. The music has stopped, and time is well and truly running out. 

While the concept might be hard to wrap your head around, we believe the date can be an empowering turning point for creatives everywhere. Rather than unknowingly borrowing from a future that is not ours, we can move new design practices forward and push back the date for years to come.

Key Facts:


of the global population has been living in regions unable to manage the amount of plastic waste produced and discarded this year since 8 January 2023


the Earth's resources are used on average each year

19 days

Earth Overshoot Day would need to shift by 19 days every year for the next seven years to meet the UN’s IPCC 2030 target

How is the date calculated?

Earth Overshoot Day is calculated each year by The Global Footprint Network, an international research organisation that provides decision-makers with a suite of tools to help the human economy better operate within Earth’s ecological limits. According to the think tank, the date is calculated by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year) by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand for that year) and multiplying by 365, the number of days in a year. 

Although this year’s date is five days later than 2022’s Earth Overshoot Day, four of those days "are owed to integrating improved datasets into the accounts' new edition", meaning that the actual shift from 2022 to 2023 only amounts to less than a day. 

Using a method known as "nowcasting", the date is also a global average, and doesn’t paint an accurate picture of the Global North’s impact on our collective ecological footprint. The data is both illuminating and important. By country, the Earth Overshoot Day for Canada, the UAE, and USA was 13 March 2023; 23 March 2023 for Australia; 19 May 2023 for the United Kingdom; and 2 June 2023 for China. The alarm is yet to sound for Vietnam, Indonesia, and Jamaica, among others.

Change is Coming - are you ready?
Materials of the future: Tanbark, Blue Ocean Closures, Notpla, Mirum

Why does nowcasting matter?

Presenting the date as a global average obscures the fact that the Overshoot Days for the world’s major polluting countries are consistently creeping up the calendar. The sad reality is that many of the countries whose dates fall later in the year are those most prone to ecological disasters such as floods, heatwaves, and droughts, despite doing the least damage. And if we were to zero-in on plastic, more than 40% of the global population has been living in regions unable to manage the amount of plastic waste produced and discarded since January 8 2023 (EA Environmental Action). This equates to 128 countries who have already exceeded their yearly capacity to manage their plastic waste.

What is the date really about?

It’s a temperature check. Not of the Earth, but of ourselves, and our actions. To put it in perspective, Earth Overshoot Day would need to shift by 19 days every year for the next seven years if the world is to meet the UN’s IPCC target of reducing GHG emissions by 43% by 2030 and limit warming to 1.5 degrees celsius, as per the Paris Agreement. 

"We urge every creative talent globally to take this day as a radical tipping point, not into climate disaster, but into a brave and powerful movement to use their brilliant skills for good. Never have we needed you more."

Sian Sutherland – co-founder, PlasticFree and A Plastic Planet

A date to 'Create What’s Next'

On this day, PlasticFree is taking this message to some of the world’s most creative hotspots including the iconic NASDAQ building in Times Square, New York. We want to show every brand, agency, business owner, and investor that there is a different way to design everything we make, embedding nature’s circularity throughout. It’s time to redesign and rethink everything. And we aren't alone. The world’s leading media platforms are backing us up, including ItsNiceThat, Dezeen, Dieline, D&AD, and Waterbear.

This is not a time for defeatism. We need to use this date as our catalyst, a defibrillator that will wake us up to new possibilities and systems, and drive us forward with excitement and energy. We need to put feelings of guilt and shame aside, and wake up to the extraordinary power that we have as a global creative industry. The most powerful question anyone can ask right now is: 'how is my business, brand, or project proactively pushing back the date?' Because everything begins with design. And if we have designed it one way, we have the power to design it again, differently.