World Overshoot Day: Lets design ourselves out of this shit!
Yesterday I was walking along the beachfront of Manly, when a stranger came up to me, and asked if I had just won the lottery.
For a moment I was confused, and then he elaborated; “you look like you've just won the lottery, I don’t think I have ever seen someone look so happy.”
I laughed, and then I cried as I responded.
“Yeah, I guess I have won the lottery - I think I have figured out how to use the only real currency we have, our time, to do awesome shit in the world.”
If you don’t know what I have been up to - this pretty much sums it up:
So, what happened next? This stranger laughed back at me, and I think I observed his brain short circuit as he let my comment land.
This chance encounter made me even happier - I love nothing more than disrupting the way we think about the possibilities of life - and waking people up to these possibilities.
However, today is another day, and by contrast, it could be a really shitty day. It could be the day that marks the death of the planet, or it could be the day we choose to collectively turn this shit around.
I have been walking around lately, sometimes breaking into tears as I walk past someone holding a single use coffee cup with a straw in it, feeling sick in my stomach as I see people returning from the shopping centres with bags full of fast fashion.
Because of these uncontrollable reactions, I have decided use my crazy scientist skills to conduct an experiment on myself over the last year or so. Then, just to take it to the next level of crazy, I combine my mad scientist with some gnarly engineering training and use these experimental results, to co-design solutions for the world.
But first, you might be wondering why would anyone in their right mind make themselves an experiment?
Well, It’s because of days like today.
Today is world overshoot day, it’s the 1st August 2018 - and it’s the date in the calendar where we have consumed more than what the earth can regenerate within the year.
Each day after this, for the rest of the year, we are living on earth’s credit card, or as I tend to think of it, we are stealing from future generations.
And you know what? We have been doing this shit since the 70’s.
So, what I want to know is WTF are we going to tell the future generations?
Sorry we needed our la-de-la imported wine, meat for every meal, the latest threads and a new car every few years? Why? Because we didn’t know any better? Because we “deserve it”? Because everyone else was doing it?
You know what?
I think we do know better and I believe we can do better.
I think our addiction to external gratification, seeking that quick dopamine hit from buying a thing and/or consuming a thing, is just a symptom of our lifestyles.
We want that quick dopamine hit to get us through another day sitting at a desk, in a job we might not love, as a reward for working so hard - and perhaps we are self medicating because we are disconnected from ourselves, and each other, and the planet?
Since the birth of Fuckgiving, I have been watching, listening and capturing data - and I’m pleased to report - people do give a fuck, and they do want to do things to make the world more awesome. To tie all of this together, we now know 87% of people are not stoked with their jobs, and 75% are willing to take a pay cut to work for companies that give more fucks.
Additionally what I’m seeing is that a lot of people are searching for ways to get more stoked and also to have more purpose in their personal and professional lives.
I have some some bold ideas about this. But before I go down that rabbit hole...
Give a fuck about World Overshoot Day?
There are heaps of things you can do:
Calculate your personal footprint and make a plan to decrease your impact - the food you eat and the shit you buy are great places to start.
Talk to people about our consumption, and let’s shift from an economy based on consumerism to one of service and contribution.
Ask questions: Where does shit comes from? Do I need it? If I do, how can I get the thing secondhand? How can I get the version that lasts?
Learn about our impact! You can find some other ideas here.
This is important as fuck, because a recent study found that our biggest impact is emissions from consumption of products and services. These include housing, transportation, food, manufactured products, and clothing.
You can check out the most greedy countries here:
Note: This methodology isn’t perfect, it doesn’t take into account random acts of kindness and the transfer of good vibes, measure all greenhouse gas emissions and a heap of other things - but let’s face it - no model is ever perfect. However overall, this is just a useful tool to start to think about how we can be most effective when giving fucks.
At the end of the day we know our consumption model is broken and the climate crisis is rooted in our modern lifestyle, and in the economic model that underpins it.
But, you know what?
Measuring how much we have, how much we use and who uses what isn’t the full answer, nor is it super inspiring. So, as much as I think we need to increase our consciousness around our consumption - I think we can do this in a much more engaging and epic way.
I mean, how much more fun would it be to just focus on how much radness we could do? Compared to focusing on doing less badness.
I have been travelling the world and learning from gurus to uncover ways we can do this for the past 10 years, and the main things I know right now:
“We need new mindsets and systems - and a lot of this links back to education.”
So, want some inspiration for how we can get out of this shit?
I guess you wouldn’t still be reading if you didn’t.
So here are some things that get me stoked that we can do this:
A few months ago, I was in the audience of a talk by Bill Reed - he is a mad-dog to say the least, and he made a comment about our ability to heal the planet in 18 months if we change the way we think, and design with nature.
I proceeded to abduct him and pick his brain over the next 24 hours to get to the bottom of this!
If you aren’t familiar with his work, this is a high level summary:
Basically this methodology is what Fuckgiving is designed off the back of - it uses living systems, focuses on solutions that are contextually relevant and place-based, and creates shit that thrives.
The bit I hadn’t thought about before, was how you could use this at the city scale, targeting areas of dense populations in order to get us out of this mess quick smart!
Bill believes, that if this methodology was applied to the biggest cities (and those with the largest ecological footprints) - we could turn this current train wreck around!
Drawdown: The most comprehensive plan to reverse global warming
Other rad solutions can be found in Paul Hawken’s book Drawdown which contains 100 solutions to reverse global warming - where he and over 200 legends combined their super powers to design and rank solutions! This included: geologists, engineers, agronomists, researchers, fellows, writers, climatologists, biologists, botanists, economists, financial analysts, architects, companies, agencies, NGOs, activists, etc.
I’m also super stoked by renegade economist Kate Raworth’s doughnut economics work, if you haven’t heard of her yet - check out her TED talk - it will certainly get you fired up:
For me, her alternative economic model makes more sense, and if applied, can help us not have World Overshoot Day!
There’s no denying, our current but outdated model based on continuous growth and success based on GDP, is well fucked.
Sexy green donut. But not so sexy red fucked up zones...
So, what’s next?
How do we as individuals use all of this and design ourselves out of this collectively?
How do we not take more than our fair share and start to write an irresistible narrative for our future?
One with more freedom, less sitting in offices and more time in wild places?
I think there are many ways we can do this - and it’s specific to each and every one of us, using our unique skills and radness, to turn our lives into experiments, to explore various ways we can achieve this.
Want a final nugget of inspiration?
One of my favourite humans Blake - turned a box truck into a house - this off grid transportable masterpiece has been his home for over a year!
Pretty baller huh?
Sure, living in a box truck isn’t for everyone one. But what he has nailed is making the whole sustainability thing slick AF with his funked up repurposed fitout and execution.
The other thing this makes me ponder, is why the fuck, are we working so hard to buy houses we will spent our lives trying to pay off? Working jobs that don’t bring out the best in us?
Only to have to search for a quick pick me up through our consumerism? Seems like a silly cycle we have got ourselves trapped in, if you ask me!
I mean, what if our lives were designed, around experience instead of consumption?
What if we didn’t need holidays from our lives, but our lives felt like holidays?
I get that this second comment is absolutely privileged, as someone who lives in Australia - so to add to that, what if we were to use our privilege to do meaningful shit, including designing ways to share more the earth’s resources more equitably, instead of taking more than our fair share?
Dudes, I could rant on this for ages but here’s the thing:
Overall, we need to develop new systems and mindsets to get us out of this shit.
What do I mean by mindset?
I mean evolving from a Fixed or Growth mindset - to a Benefit Mindset:
We need to transition our current narrative on the planet, from consumers to custodians.
We need to collectively write an irresistible narrative for our future.
We need to not just focus on all the things that are fucked, when we could spend that energy figuring out how to turn problems into potential and build epic solutions - to design ourselves out of this shit.
This is what I will be doing today, on what could be a sad day...
And finally, there is a place for everyone in all of this. Find the thing you give a fuck about and go out and do something about it!
Better yet. Team up with some other Fuckgivers and do it together - you can link up with some here.
And I know I have thrown down a lot of questions, so lastly:
The best way to live an ethical life isn’t to find all the answers, but to be willing to wrestle with difficult questions and I would add - get off your ass and go and get some shit done!
Big Love Legends