Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared on Ekopo.fr Media Biodiverstité as part of a content partnership. It has been edited for clarity.
Will the world after be worse than the world before?
It took a global pandemic and the sudden shutdown of our economy to push back by three weeks the increasingly infamous “Earth Overshoot Day in 2020”. Despite increased awareness, a will to change, and recent commitments of governments, politics, industries and individuals for a more sustainable world and economy, the observation is bitter: “Overshoot day” 2021 is identical to that of the world before, that of the year 2019 – July 29 . Worse, while we are witnessing increasing instances of natural disasters linked to global warming (floods, heatwaves records, mega-fires, etc.), global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are likely to, according to the International Energy Agency, reach a new record high in 2023…
However, the true aim of Earth Overshoot Day is to quantify our impact with a view to changing our behaviours as businesses and individuals – in time to protect the planet for future generations.
An alarming finding that calls for profound changes
According to Global Footprint Network, who initiated the calculation of the overshoot day, to achieve the IPCC’s 2030 target, we would need to be able to push back the date by 10 days each year so that humanity “consumes” less than one earth per year. Not only does the planet fail to restore its stocks due to intensive extraction, it is also struggling to absorb all the harmful emissions, including GHGs, created by human and industrial activity. Consequently, the overexploitation of the earth makes it unable to regenerate itself to guarantee a sustainable future and climate for humanity. If everybody in the world consumed like an average European, it would take 2.8 planets each year to meet our “needs”. While understanding and accepting the limits of the earth will play a central role in its preservation, the conversion of our systems to a regenerative economy will become critical to keep our natural capital assets.
A sustainable transformation of models, which must be brought to the highest level of the company
Ray Anderson, the visionary founder of Interface, became aware of these issues very early on. Reading Paul Hawken’s book, The Ecology of Commerce was the trigger that drove him to radically transform the business model of his company, which at the time was based on the intensive use of virgin oil to manufacture flooring products, towards a regenerative and circular economy. Since 1994, the company has focused on developing innovative concepts and solutions to eliminate any negative environmental footprint. To achieve this, Interface was inspired by nature, where everything is reused, transformed, filtered and recycled, consumed responsibly (taking only what’s needed) and without generating a single negative impact on ecosystems or waste.
To find out more about Interface journey and progress – please see the Sustainability Highlights 2020 of the company.
Set ambitious goals to push the boundaries of the company
Since 2016, with its new mission, Climate Take Back ™, Interface has been committed to run its business in a way that reverses global warming. How? becoming a carbon negative enterprise by 2040, by considering CO2 as a resource. 5 years later, thanks to bio-based materials that sequester CO2, and the optimization of processes and components, the company has even created carbon negative products (cradle to gate).
Many initiatives carried out by other companies, such as Michelin, Signify or Fairphone, prove that solutions exist and that another way is possible … Industry has a key role to play: it must pave the way to the long-awaited sustainable transition. More than ever, it is time for manufacturers and wider business to limit and sharply reduce its ecological footprint, by promoting – as much as possible responsible consumption (use only what’s needed), circularity and innovation.