Canada’s Overshoot Day: Not a Day for Celebration

Cover photo retrieved from CarbonNews


By Bethany Kempster, ROM

March 13th is the day we celebrate National Coconut Torte Day, National Earmuff Day, and National Open an Umbrella Indoors Day. Among these silly and delicious celebrations is another more ominous observance. Last year March 13th was Canada’s official overshoot day – the day when Canadians had used all the resources that the planet could provide for that year. Canada’s resource consumption is far above the global average as last year World Overshoot Day was August 2nd. Our ever-growing demands are only met through increasing overfishing and overharvesting, intensifying deforestation, and emitting more greenhouses gases than the Earth’s natural systems can sequester.

So what can we do? An easy first step is to learn about your own ecological footprint. An ecological footprint measures your personal impact on the environment. By taking into consideration our need for food, shelter, mobility, goods, and services, it calculates the amount of biologically productive area on Earth required to support your demands. Simply visit, answer some questions about your lifestyle, learn what your ecological footprint is, and discover what you can do to make a difference and do your part to help push back Canada’s overshoot day.

Are you a teacher or educator interested in exploring ecological footprints with your students? Coming soon to BEAN’s Resource page is a new activity for Grade 9 Geography (academic and applied) students. After calculating their ecological footprints, students will explore their data and compare it to the class average, examine the importance of metaphors (such as the idea of an ecological “footprint”), and hold a class debate on issues of responsibility and sustainability. Join our e-mail subscriber list to be the first to know about new resources as they become available!

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