27 Jul 2018


• Global Footprint Network and Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation have issued the alert: overshoot day has never come as early as this year

• Since 1970, we have been constantly "running out" of our natural resources sooner and sooner (about 30 days earlier every 10 years)

• Today our way of life is consuming the equivalent of 1.7 Earths

• But if we replaced our meat consumption with plant foods and cut food waste by 50%, we could push this date back by 38 days

• With #MoveTheDate, Global Footprint Network and BCFN suggest solutions to help us to save our Planet

1 day. This is all we have left before 1 August, the date when we will have consumed all the natural resources our Earth is able to "regenerate" in a year. It is called Earth Overshoot Day and it is the date after which we will be using resources our Planet is no longer capable of regenerating. A dramatic phenomenon which recurs every year, but always a few days earlier: in just under 50 years, Overshoot Day has moved forward from 29 December, in 1970, to 1 August in 2018. In practice, our Planet has “lost” about 30 days of self-sufficiency every 10 years1 . Estimates indicate that this year, to satisfy the current demand for natural resources, we are using the equivalent of 1.7 Earths. This was calculated by the Global Footprint Network, the international research institute which invented the method for calculating consumption of resources using the Ecological Footprint. But how do we consume these resources? No less than 60% corresponds to the "demand from nature" for the absorption of carbon dioxide emissions. And just think that each one of us could do something to improve the situation even by just changing our approach to food, since the way we produce it accounts for over 30% of our greenhouse gas emissions (more than heating, which generates 23.6% and transport, which is "only” responsible for 18.5% of the greenhouse gases produced worldwide). A situation that is leading to the erosion of natural resources. The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation has used the Food Sustainability Index (recently created in partnership with  The Economist Intelligence Unit) to calculate that a number of countries are losing farmland to pollution and desertification every year. China, for example, loses 7.9% of its farmland every year, Ethiopia 3.5% and Nigeria 2.8%. Italy is not much better off, with a figure of 2.3%. So a change must be made, and it has to start from what we put on our plates.

To keep our economies running today, we are borrowing resources that will be needed tomorrow. This vicious cycle cannot go on much longer: if we continue this trend, in little more than fifty years we may already have consumed everything available to us by the start of the year. And what will the consequences be for all our lives? The time has come to move the date of Overshoot Day back and try to adopt a more sustainable approach to our Planet. Here at Barilla Foundation, we are supporting this campaign because if we want to achieve the 17 Goals of the UN's 2030 Agenda we have to adopt a food culture that leads us to prefer sustainable diets, like the Mediterranean diet, and encourages food production systems with lower environmental impact, especially since today the demand for food accounts for 26% of the global ecological footprint”, is the comment of Marta Antonelli, Head of the BCFN's Research Program.


Reversing this trend is possible. If we managed to postpone the date of Overshoot Day by just 5 days every year, we would be using less than one planet's resources by 2050. Some practical steps we could take? According to Global Footprint Network and BCFN Foundation, if we replaced our meat consumption with plant foods and wasted 50% less food, we could push the date back by 38 days. What's more, if we reduced the carbon component of our ecological footprint by 50% at a global level, we would actually move the date back by 93 days. 

The Food Sustainability Index, which analyzes the food production systems of 34 of the world's countries, is potentially a useful tool for assessing governments' commitment to ensuring that Overshoot Day comes later every year. A few examples of good practice? In France less than 2% of food is wasted. This is partly thanks to new policies which force supermarkets to give away food which is approaching its sell-by date instead of just throwing it away. In Italy, on the other hand, a great deal has been done to introduce new methods that reduce the dispersal of the water used for irrigation, and thus conserve one of the most important natural resources at our disposal. 


Every one of us can do our bit to help to postpone the arrival of Overshoot Day, especially by rethinking our approach to food. To help raise people's awareness, the BCFN Foundation has created its Double Food and Environmental Pyramid, a graphic model that combines the familiar food pyramid (the principles of which are an exact fit with those of the Mediterranean Diet) with a new (overturned) “environmental" pyramid which classifies foods on the basis of their ecological footprint. The Double Pyramid shows that the foods recommended by nutritionists as best for our health are also the best for ensuring the "health" of our planet.

These are the BCFN'S 6 golden rules for saving the planet at table

1. Choose your food wisely: a healthy and balanced diet can be good for you and the Planet

2. Increase your consumption of plant foods such as fruit, vegetables, cereals and nuts and try to moderate your intake of animal proteins such as red meat, fish or poultry

3. Shop intelligently and decide what you are going to eat in advance: you will buy the right amount and avoid waste

4. Swap out the most resource-greedy ingredients in your favourite recipes

5. Eat seasonal

6. Visit your nearest farmers market

 1 BCFN estimate



Simone Silvi - Senior Account Media Relations - s.silvi@inc-comunicazione.it - +39 335.10.97.279

Mariagrazia Martorana - Media Relations Consultant - m.martorana@inc-comunicazione.it - +39 333.57.61.268


Valentina Gasbarri, Communication and External Relations Manager, valentina.gasbarri@barillacfn.com  , +39 338 7882700

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