Earth Hour may have had humble beginnings in one city in Australia in 2007, but one year was all it took for the movement to spread from Sydney to the rest of the world. In 2008, it spread to over 300 towns and cities in 35 countries, and in 2013 it was celebrated in over 7000 cities in 152 countries. This year Earth Hour takes place on the 29th of March from 20h30 to 21h30 local time, and while you might think that is still yonks into the future, you’d do well to start planning your evening now.
According to WWF South Africa, this year’s Earth Hour campaign depends on each participant making a promise to honour the planet in some (small) way. Ideally, this means that you think about your place on the Earth, your impact on it, what you give and what you take, and how you can find ways to give more and take less. Basically, the idea is for you to engage more with the concept rather than just pledging to participate, and then forgetting to actually switch off your lights at the appointed hour.
To help encourage you to stick to your pledge, WWF will launch an online platform where you can make your promise public. The platform will only be launched in March, but you should start thinking about the small things you can start doing right now to save energy and put less strain on the planet’s limited resources.
Making a difference one candlelit dinner at a time
For example, you could pledge to have one meat-free day a week. If you’re feeling strong, you can go one better and pledge to have one raw food vegetarian day a week. Not only does this do all the good things of a regular meat-free day (reducing carbon emissions and all that) but you’ll also save yourself electricity as you won’t be doing any cooking. Many people think that raw food diets are difficult and time-consuming, and the truth is that they do take more effort than simply sticking a ready-meal in the microwave, but the environmental and health benefits more than make up for the hassle. The idea is still daunting, however, which is why pledging just one day a week is a good compromise.
Care2 has some great tips for raw food living.
Another simple idea is to pledge to switch off your lights half an hour earlier every night for the rest of the year. Do you think that sounds ridiculous? Well, it’s not. Take that half an hour and dedicate it to something that, if you’re like almost everyone else in the world, is lacking in your life: me-time. Use it to have a relaxing candlelit bath, or meditate by candlelight to calm your mind before bed.
As the subheading suggests, you can pledge to eat more candlelit dinners. This can do a lot of good on a lot of fronts. For example, it can reignite some romance in a relationship. Your kids will love the novelty and “adventure” of candlelight dinners, which makes it easier to convince them to sit at the table and not in front of the TV. And, if you’re at the table and not in front of the TV, then the TV doesn’t have to be on (or even plugged in) and the lights in the lounge (not to mention the dining room and kitchen) can also be off. In fact, all of your lights can be off to enhance the candles’ effect.
During Earth Hour itself
If you’re wondering what on earth (ahem) to do with yourself for the single hour of Earth Hour, fret not because WWF UK has 60 suggestions for you to consider. You could, for instance, revisit your childhood and invite a group of friends around and tell horror stories by torchlight. Or you could wander around your neighbourhood and enjoy the stars. Or you could have a candlelit dinner party with friends (go raw for a challenge). Or you could have an evening picnic outdoors. Or you could have a nap in preparation for a wild Saturday night. Or you could find out what activities your city has planned and pop on down.
Speaking of cities
Cape Town and Durban have been chosen to represent South Africa in the Earth Hour City Challenge (EHCC). It’s the first time that South Africa will participate in the challenge, which requires cities to commit to actionable and sustainable initiatives to drive the development of renewable energy solutions and to lower carbon emissions and mitigate climate change.
On the 4th of February, WWF South Africa announced that Cape Town has been chosen as South Africa’s Earth Hour Capital, but you can still vote for either Durban or Cape Town in the international competition on the We Love Cities website.
There may still be more than a month before Earth Hour is celebrated, but time does fly, so start thinking about your pledge and planning your celebrations now.
Image credit: Simon James (Menage a Moi), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Flickr