Tonight at 8:30 local time, hundreds of cities and thousands of people will turn off their lights for 60 minutes. Known as “Earth Hour,” this massive international event happens each year as a way to bring awareness to the growing threat of irreversible climate change, and what we can do to slow it.
It’s awesome to watch the major commercial buildings and town squares go dark as a silent reminder of all we have to lose if no definitive action is taken to curb climate change. But for some reason or another, it seems like I’m never home or just forget to turn off my own lights. There’s also the argument that while symbolic, Earth Hour really doesn’t do anything to help our planet. It’s the actions we take every day that impact our overall carbon footprint.
So, instead of posting yet another reminder to turn off your lights at exactly 8:30 tonight, I decided to put together a short list of actions to take at any point today, and any day, that celebrate the real spirit of Earth Hour.
How To Celebrate Earth Hour (Without Turning Off Your Lights!)
1. Give Up Your Car
Ok, so maybe you can’t go completely car free right now or maybe there’s no public transportation in your town. Still, I’ll bet it’s possible to choose one day a week, or one particular set of errands, that can be accomplished by walking or biking instead of driving. Maybe it’s just walking to the park or library with your kids, instead of taking the car. Maybe it’s carpooling to work with the coworker that lives in your neighborhood. Once you start rethinking your need for a car every time you want to leave the house, it becomes easier to imagine live without it. Learn more here…
2. Grow Your Own Food
Farming might seem like an innocent-enough occupation. But did you know that almost every aspect of the industrial agricultural complex adds a heavy carbon footprint to our food supply? By growing a little food yourself, you not only eliminate the need to pay high prices or drive your car to the store as often, you also eliminate your participation in an agricultural process that’s drowning in chemicals and dependent on gasoline to get foods from farm to table. Learn more here…
3. Replace Your Lightbulbs
Gone is the day when the incandescent light bulb was our only choice for home or office lighting. Did you know that most of what an incandescent light bulb produces is heat, and not light? That’s why they often burn out after only a few short months of use. Making the choice to switch your light bulbs to CFLs or LEDs will make a huge impact on your home energy consumption. If you can’t afford to replace every bulb in the house, consider replacing those in the most high impact areas, like the kitchen, living room, porch, or bathroom. Learn more here…
4. Eliminate Vampire Energy
Did you know that, even when switched off, most of your appliances and electronics continue sucking electricity from the outlet? This is commonly referred to as “idle current usage” or “vampire energy.” Think about all the electronics that you leave plugged in day and night…compounded over months and years, that adds up to a lot of wasted energy and money. A relatively inexpensive way to eliminate these energy vampires is to plug frequently used appliances into smart power strips that reduce the amount of energy used when the device is in idle or off mode. Learn more here…
5. Ditch The Plastic
Almost all plastic is made from petroleum, which is a boon to the fossil fuel industry. The amount of plastic we consume and then instantly discard is staggering: 500 billion plastic bags per year and 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour, just to name a few. This level of unnecessary consumption is bad enough, but when you consider that the majority of these plastic throwaways end up in landfills, the ocean, or littered about the street, it’s a huge problem. Commit to eliminating plastic from your life, once and for all. Whether it’s giving up bottled water or switching to reusable shopping bags, breaking the plastic addiction will go a long way for our planet. Learn more here…
How will you celebrate Earth Hour, today and every day? Share your ideas in a comment!
Image via Christian Haugen/Flickr