Becoming resource role models for our children
The first Earth Overshoot Day fell on 24 December, 1971 – seven days before the end of the year. The next 45 years saw this date advance relentlessly: in 2016 Earth Overshoot Day fell on 8 August – 145 days early. There is no doubt that people are using natural resources at an accelerating pace.
Earth Overshoot Day measures how people deplete the planet’s resources on a global scale, but is it possible to use the same type of measurement in specific countries or areas? Certainly! When we look at Hong Kong, the findings are cause for grave concern. This year, Hong Kong Overshoot Day – the day when, if everyone on Earth consumed resources at the rate we do in Hong Kong, we would have used up one year’s worth of resources – fell on 4 April. In other words, at our rate of consumption, we would have used up a year’s worth of resources in basically the first quarter of the year. As of 5 April, we would have begun consuming 2018’s resource quota – eating into the resources of the next generations. The irony is that 4 April is also Children’s Day, a day when we celebrate our children and their bright and promising futures. In 2017, 4 April is definitely a day with a double meaning.
The future of our planet belongs to the next generation, and the generations which follow them. These are the people who will inherit the world and its many environmental problems; they are also the ones who will be responsible for protecting the planet and restoring species and habitats. It is our duty to honestly, transparently and fully educate this generation – by showing them people of today how to live sustainably and reduce their impact on the Earth.
While a child’s primary adult role model will almost always be their parents, children also spend a lot of time with their teachers. Teachers’ words, lessons and subtle actions have a deep and lasting influence on the behaviour of the children they teach. WWF hopes that teachers will act as “green role models” in schools, demonstrating green actions and encouraging their students to take part. Then, over time, our children will start putting a sustainable lifestyle into practice from a young age, developing Earth-friendly habits and taking responsibility for reducing their consumption of resources.
Here are some ways that teachers and students can start living a sustainable lifestyle at school:
- Switch off all unnecessary lights and electronics
- Reuse noticeboard paper
- Create a “second-hand book exchange” bookshelf
- Bring your own reusable water bottles, utensils and handkerchiefs to school every day
- Always avoid using plastic utensils
- Avoid purchasing over-packaged food
- Reduce food waste
- Create and display cards reminding everyone to use resources wisely
We also recommend that the school managers review their school’s procurement policies and work with suppliers to formulate ways to reduce unnecessary waste and source sustainable products.
Naturally, WWF encourages teachers and students to live sustainably outside the school campus as well, as this will help influence the people surrounding them. If everyone works together, we can push Earth Overshoot Day back to where it belongs: 31 December. Only then will we ensure that we are conserving precious resources for the next generations.
Learn more about how to live a sustainable lifestyle here: