Earth Hour happens every year in March. This year, Earth Hour falls on Saturday, March 28, 2020, from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm.
“Started by WWF and partners as a symbolic lights-out event in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour is now one of the world’s largest grassroots movements for the environment, engaging millions of people in more than 180 countries and territories. It has become a catalyst for positive environmental impact, driving major legislative changes by harnessing the power of the people.” – Earth Hour website
Since we’re all mostly isolating at home anyway, it’s even easier to participate this year. Just switch off the non-essential electric lights in your home for that hour. That’s it.
But Earth Hour is more than that. Some argue that turning off the lights for an hour is an empty gesture that doesn’t have any noticeable effect in the world’s energy use. I think they’re missing the point.
They’re right that Earth Hour is just a symbol. Its purpose isn’t to reduce our global energy or carbon use in and of itself. Rather, it’s intended to act as a catalyst for dialogue, engagement, and accountability. Earth Hour symbolizes a commitment to change that goes beyond one short hour of darkness.
Earth Hour is about the power of small changes and working together. So in that spirit, today we’re talking about other small changes that almost anyone can make with minimal disruption or cost.
Not everyone is willing or able to build a compost bin in their back yard (or even has a back yard to put it in!). Most drivers aren’t able to sell their cars and start bicycling everywhere. But there are plenty of small changes that almost everyone can make, and if everyone makes them, these small changes can add up to make a much bigger impact.
- Turn down your thermostat before bed. 18 degrees (65 F) is a good temperature for sleeping. If you have a programmable thermostat, it’s easy to set it to turn down the heat automatically at bedtime or when nobody’s home, but even if you don’t, start a habit of manually turning down the thermostat when you go out or go to bed.
- Turning off the water while you’re brushing your teeth can save up to 200 gallons of water per month.
- If you have don’t already have a low-flow toilet, place a brick in the tank to displace some of the water in the tank, thus reducing the amount of water used per flush.
- Or, if the other people in your house are cool with it, you can try selectively flushing. Otherwise known as, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.”
- Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Your mother probably nagged you about this when you were growing up, but hey, we all need a reminder sometimes!
- Be mindful of when clothing really needs to be washed. If they’re not visibly dirty, many items of clothing can be hung to air out between wearings, and towels certainly don’t need to be washed every time. Bonus, your clothes will last longer!
- Speaking of laundry, switch to a cold water laundry detergent and wash in cold water to save both energy and money. Don’t worry about needing hot water to “kill” germs. Most pathogens and viruses will survive even the hottest water. It’s the high heat in the dryer that you need to sanitize clothing. You can also line dry clothes outside in direct sunlight as UV rays are a great germ-killer.
- According to the David Suzuki Foundation, the average meal travels 1,200 kilometres from the farm to your plate. Whoa! Try to place more emphasis on buying local produce in season. Not only will local fruit and veggies taste fresher and more flavourful, but they often cost less too!
- Go meat-free one night a week. Besides the ethical implications of animal husbandry, plant-based meals require significantly less resources to raise and bring to the table.
- Bring a reusable cup with you when you visit your local coffee shop. Some stores will even give you a small discount for using your own cup.
- Many of the products we use on a daily basis can easily be replaced with cloth alternatives. If you’re not already using them, switch to reusable grocery bags, cloth napkins instead of paper serviettes, reusable fabric snack bags, and rags instead of paper towels.
- Don’t idle your car unnecessarily. If you’re waiting for someone or stopped at a train crossing, turn off your engine.
- Above all else, VOTE! Vote with your dollars for companies and brands that put people and planet above profits, and vote for people and parties who will prioritize legislative changes and sustainable policies that protect our earth.