Last year marked the 10th anniversary of Earth Hour, the worldwide light switch off aiming to signal and encourage protection of the climate and the environment. Hundreds of millions of people across 187 countries and territories took part, along with businesses, organisations and schools aiming to ‘shine a light on the climate issue most relevant in their country or region’. For example, South Africa focus on renewable energy, while China will look at building sustainable lifestyles in the years to come. On March 24th at 8:30pm (your local time), we’ll be switching our lights off once more. Let’s take a look at why Earth Hour started, what it has achieved so far, what it hopes to achieve in the future and how you can get involved.
How Did Earth Hour Start?
Aggravated by the disbelief and denial of the effects of climate change, Earth Hour co-founder Andy Ridley, charity WWF-Australia and advertising agencies Leo Burnett and Fairfax Media, joined forces in 2007 to get these issues heard. Their aim: to start an open discussion about what we can all do to address the world’s environmental challenges. That year, 2.2 million homes and businesses turned off their lights for one hour to, ‘show leaders that climate change was an issue people cared about’ (Siddarth Das, executive director at Earth Hour Global).
Its effects were profound. In 2008, 50 million people across 35 countries took part, and landmarks such as San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and Rome’s Colosseum went dark too. Each year since, increasing numbers of countries and participants have switched their lights off, sent petitions to their governments, held events and donated to causes that they believe in.
What Has Earth Hour Helped To Achieve So Far?
Amazing feats, such as:
- WWF-Uganda has created the world’s first Earth Hour Forest as a stand against deforestation.
- Argentina passed a Senate bill to set up Banco Namuncurá (Burdwood) – a 3.4 million hectare Marine Protected Area that will care for its seas.
- Environmental education programmes for schools were launched in Taiwan and Thailand.
- Solar lights sent to rural communities in Ethiopia to replace kerosene lamps, and to villages in India and the Philippines without electricity.
- Provided thousands of families in Madagascar and Nepal with fuel-efficient stoves.
- Banned plastics to protect wildlife in the Galapagos Islands.
And that’s not all. WWF continually works with businesses, organisations and governments across the globe to restore habitats, encourage sustainable farming, reduce carbon emissions and help countries deal with climate change.
What’s Happening This Year?
Along with the switch off, WWF wants you to make a personal promise to the planet, whether that’s eating less meat, using refillable cups, washing clothes at 30 degrees, switching to green energy, ending your plastic cutlery needs or something else that you believe will benefit. For every promise made, Ariel, the detergent company, will donate £1 to help protect the planet. I’ve promised to use refillable cups and bottles. You can register your promise here.
How Else Can You Get Involved?
WWF have suggested a whole list of great activities:
- Choose from a list of 60 things to do in the dark, including stargazing, camping, having a candle-lit bath and hosting a cocktail party.
- Encourage your children or young students to get involved through creative learning, turning off lights and whiteboards during the day and teaching them about how their actions can make a difference.
- Hold youth group activities such as the Earth Hour Quiz, animal lantern competitions and inspiring them to make a change.
- Get your workplace involved by switching off all lights and electronics at night, encouraging your clients and suppliers to follow suit and donate to a worthy environmental cause.
- Hold local events where you reconnect with your neighbours, go on moonlight walks or cycles for charity and make pledges to clean up issues within your village, town or city.
- Use social media to spread awareness of the importance of Earth Hour, WWF and the things we can all do to help make the world a better and more sustainable place.
What Earth Hour 2018 Hopes To Achieve
To get everyone to work together to care for the planet, take actions that will reduce habitat loss, pollution and unsavoury practices and ensure the world is habitable for all in the future.
‘’As WWF’s mass engagement platform for climate change, Earth Hour aims to encourage an interconnected global community to participate in the opportunities and challenges of creating a sustainable world’’ (Earth Hour FAQs)
Earth Hour has already inspired great achievements, so the potential for more could be life-changing. For more information on Earth Hour, click here.