Courtesy Jeffrey Hamilton/Stockbyte/Thinkstock
For one hour on March 26, 2011, peoples’ thoughts and actions will be geared toward one topic: protecting the Earth.
People around the world, including businesses, governments and communities, are encouraged to turn out their lights for one hour at 8:30 p.m. local time to show their support for environmentally sustainable action.
Earth Hour began in Sydney, Australia, in 2007 when 2 million people in the city switched off their lights. Last year, Earth Hour made history as the largest voluntary action ever witnessed with participation across 128 countries and every continent.
This year, Earth Hour is asking people to go a step further and commit to an action beyond the hour that will sustain life for the future of the planet.
“On the night of Earth Hour, people across the globe will celebrate these commitments to the planet by participating in turning off lights for one hour,” says Andy Ridley, executive director and cofounder of Earth Hour. “Everyone has the power to make change: A CEO can change an organization, a 7-year-old can change a classroom, and a president can change a country. … It is through the collective action of individuals and organizations that we will be able to truly make a difference, which is why we are urging people across the planet to share how they will go beyond the hour this Earth Hour.”
Mary Ann Kaufman in Glen Ellyn, Ill., says at 8:30 p.m. on March 26 she will turn off not only her lights, but also her water, to show her commitment to life on this planet. Beyond the hour, Kaufman says she will continue to try to live as ecologically friendly as possible.
“Last year we planted three new orchard trees, we doubled our vegetable garden, put in a natural rain garden with no additional infrastructure and bought a push mower,” she says. “This year, we’re installing a rain barrel, and I am getting indigenous species of worms for a food-scraps compost in the house. I’m also biking to do errands at least a couple times a week instead of taking the car.”
Sarah Siskin, from Forked River, N.J., has been surrounded by an eco-friendly lifestyle from her childhood—parents who bought only organic food and did not allow packaged foods or TV in the house.
“Now that I’m all grown up, something like Earth Hour is just more of the same for me and my family,” she says. “I’ll shut off the few lights we have strategically placed around the house for the hour on the 26th, but I think I’ll also post a big Facebook message noting that for that hour, Facebook should shut down, right?”
She says she and her husband will also light a fire in their chiminea and celebrate Mother Nature with s’mores and coffee.
Siskin says she will continue to live as eco-friendly as possible beyond Earth Hour by growing their own food and making do with less.
“We live cheaply and simply,” she explains. “Lessening one’s carbon footprint has to do with opting for a lifestyle which recognizes less as being actually more.”
Helen Pettingill from Norval, Ontario, is shutting off her lights and enjoying the candles in the darkness for Earth Hour. She says she will continue to live a green lifestyle as she has for decades.
“I grew up with conservative values when it comes to waste and being efficient,” she says. “When blue boxes [recycling bins] started arriving in the 80s, I took an even greener approach. … Every single thing that gets disposed off from this house only hits the actual garbage if it is truly useless.”
This year, Earth Hour is relying heavily upon its website and social networking to communicate the event’s importance. Earth Hour’s online platform is translated into 11 languages and used to inspire and showcase positive actions the global community that will take for the planet beyond Earth Hour. The website is also integrated with all major social networks worldwide, including Facebook, Twitter, Mixi, Myspace, Odnoklassniki, Cloob, Orkut, Qzone, RenRen, Vkontakte, Maktoob, Skyrock, Xing and Zing.
You can also share your Beyond the Hour commitment on the UF forums.