Observe Earth Hour with me. As a nature lover, I want to ensure that our planet and its beauty can be enjoyed for generations to come. But to make this possible, we need to be good stewards of Mother Earth and her natural resources. Find out what Earth Hour is and ways we can go beyond every day.
What is Earth Hour
Earth Hour is organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). It is a global grassroots movement that engages communities in raising awareness of environmental issues and protecting the planet. The event is held annually, encouraging individuals, communities, and businesses to turn off non-essential electric lights, for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on a specific day towards the end of March, as a symbol of commitment to the planet. This year the date falls on Saturday, March 26th.
Since the campaign began in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour has grown to engage more than 7000 cities and towns worldwide, and the one-hour event continues to remain the key driver of the now larger movement.
While Earth Hour is symbolic of the kind of energy and passion people around the world have to make a difference in the fight against climate change, it’s also an opportunity to highlight the many things we can do to collectively address it. It is a call to action for individuals, families, businesses, and the government to work together to preserve our planet’s future. Earth Hour is an opportunity to commit every day to take care of each other and the one home we all share.
In addition to switching off your lights for an hour, let’s go beyond this one-hour event and pledge to make a difference every day by making small changes.
Here are 10 simple ways you can go beyond the Hour to make a positive difference for people and the planet:
1. Eat More Sustainably
Sustainable eating is about choosing foods that are healthful to our environment and our bodies.
Global demand for food has devastated the natural world, with over 75% of the forest lost in the last century due to agriculture, and greenhouse gas emissions from livestock alone accounting for at least 24% of global emissions. If we want to feed the world in a sustainable way that does not exacerbate climate change, it is vital that we all take action.
- Eat more plants and less meat, fish, eggs, and dairy
- Diversify your diet and add more variety
- Avoid overly harvested fish such as tuna, salmon, pollock, haddock, cod, and seabass – are crucial species that maintain the balance of the ecosystems they are in.
- Choose seasonal, locally-grown foods
- Grow your own food
- Look for products containing RSPO certified palm oil
2. Waste Less Food
Did you know that we throw away 1/3rd of all the food we buy. Food production has a huge impact on nature so choosing to be less wasteful of our food, can make a difference.
- Compost food scraps or feed to livestock.
- Eat leftovers and get creative turning them into a new meal.
- Make a shopping list and stick to it. Don’t buy in bulk, as this actually leads to more food waste.
- Store food correctly to avoid spoilage.
- Check expiration dates at the store and avoid buying food that’s set to expire.
3. Be a Responsible Traveler
Transportation accounts for around a quarter of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions. We need to rethink how we get around, if we want to cut climate change.
- Carpool for your commute or join a rideshare.
- Walk or bike instead of driving – it’s good for you AND the environment
- Take public transport.
- If you must drive, make sure to maximize fuel efficiency by checking your tire pressure and regularly maintaining your vehicle.
- Vacation closer to home rather than overseas.
- Take direct flights if you must fly.
4. Ditch the Plastic
If current trends continue, scientists say our oceans could contain more plastic than fish by 2050 – and that wouldn’t bode well for the health of marine life or for us. Studies suggest that people may be unknowingly ingesting up to 5 grams of microplastic every week – the equivalent weight of a credit card. Here’s how you can cause less harm to the environment and to your health:
- Use reusable shopping bags.
- Stop buying single-use water bottles and cups.
- Use washable cloth produce bags for your fruits and veggies.
- Opt for bar soap instead of handsoap in plastic bottles.
- Shop for items with minimal packaging.
- Support businesses who opt for eco-friendly packaging and even restaurants that use recycled takeout containers.
5. Conserve Water
One of the most common misconceptions about drinking water is that there is a lot of it — that when it comes to water, we’re not going to run out any time soon. But while water may seem plentiful, in truth, fresh water is not an unlimited resource. It actually makes up a mere 2.5% of all the water on Earth. In truth, it is a valuable resource that must be managed wisely – it is believed that nearly half the world’s population will face severe water scarcity by 2030 without urgent action.
Here’s what you can do to help:
- Take shorter showers.
- Turn the water off when shaving or brushing your teeth.
- Plant native plants that don’t require special care and watering.
- Fix plumbing leaks and drips right away.
- Use water-wise appliances that use less water (washing machines, dishwashers, and toilets).
- Install low flow showerheads.
- Use a rainwater collection system to water gardens or install efficient irrigation systems.
6. Be Energy Efficient
Most of us take energy for granted, neglecting to notice how much we use at home. In the US, 1/5th of greenhouse gas emissions comes from household energy use.
- Turn off lights & electronics when not in use.
- Install smart power strips (or, advanced power strip) in your home. TVs, laptops, and even your cable box continue to consume energy even when in sleep mode or turned off. Smart power strips can actually cut power off and save energy since they are able to detect when a device is in standby mode.
- Use LED and CFL lightbulbs. They are 75% more efficient than a regular incandescent bulb and they last longer. Saving energy saves money and conserves resources (ie fossil fuels) and reduces pollution. Sounds good!
- Only use dishwashers, laundry, and dryers when you have a full load.
- Air-dry / hang-dry your laundry instead of using the dryer.
- Be more conscious of your heater/air-conditioning temperatures!
- Set a timer so your heat or air conditioner doesn’t stay on all night.
7. Protect Natural Spaces
Nature doesn’t just provide us humans with beautiful areas to escape to, but also provides homes to wildlife and plants. We must work to ensure these natural spaces are not destroyed.
As I’m sure you are aware, our activity as humans has eliminated much of the bird’s, butterfly’s, and wildlife’s natural habitat, pushing them into ever-shrinking wilderness areas.
So, how can we help?
- Leave no trace – when visiting green spaces, don’t leave trash behind.
- Stay on marked trails to avoid tramping delicate vegetation.
- Invite wildlife back into your yard and neighborhood by planting native plants to establish habitats for wildlife.
- Add birdhouses, bat houses, and birdbaths to your yard.
- Plant flowers for pollinators.
- Reduce your lawn size and plant wildflowers instead.
8. Be a Conscious Consumer
Conscious consumption is about shopping in ways that make a positive social, environmental, or economic impact. It’s a form of consumption that has been described as buying things with a clear conscience. It usually involves buying products that are environmentally friendly, ethically produced, fairly traded, and/or cruelty-free.
Here are some ideas:
- Buy secondhand – Buying preloved clothing stops items from going straight to landfills, reduces the demand for cheap, fast fashion, and cuts down on the number of new items being produced. It also means you’re not contributing to the exploitation of garment workers, who are often forced to work in unsafe conditions for minimal wages.
- Avoid buying items with palm oil as an ingredient since palm oil production results in huge amounts of deforestation and habitat loss for wildlife.
- Buy or make your own natural cleaning products.
9. Become an Advocate
Become an advocate for taking care of our planet by using your voice as a powerful tool to spread the word.
- Use your social media to inform friends about climate change – just be aware to ALWAYS fact check before sharing.
- Plan a community event to raise awareness.
- Join others in community clean up days.
10. Continue Learning
Our world is changing every day and we are always discovering new ways to make positive changes. To commit to positive change, you should be informed about the latest developments in the world around you. After all, awareness is the first step before action.
Earth Hour is a prime opportunity to reflect on our daily habits and make positive changes in our everyday lives. By looking further than just this one-hour event, we can give future generations hope for a healthy planet for years to come.