The 31st of March marks the day of the internationally observed Earth Hour – a community driven initiative to both raise awareness about the dangers of global warming and unabated consumerism, as well as to demonstrate the power of collective action. Organised by the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), the event takes place at 20.30pm on time zones the world over and runs for one hour until 21.30. Earth Hour represents the perfect opportunity to break out those candles!
Earth Hour was first observed by residents of Sydney, Australia, in 2007. The Australian branch of the WWF had contacted local schools, businesses and media about the initiative and encouraged all able Aussies to participate. It was a resounding success! During that hour a staggering 2.2 million Australians (including 2000 companies) switched off all lights and appliances in observation of the novel initiative. The sense of camaraderie that the participants enjoyed was matched only by their feeling of goodwill for having contributed, in their own small way, to the reduction of their carbon footprint.
The world was suitably impressed! Australia had just demonstrated that it was indeed possible to get ordinary people to power down in solidarity for a worthy cause. Earth Hour gained coverage in media around the world and was championed as an innovative new way to promote awareness and sustainability. The very next year, in 2008, Toronto was next to implement Earth Hour thus setting off a chain reaction of willing cities from all around the world.
Organised to coincide with the equinox on the last Saturday of March, this year will see over 135 countries participating. The event last year, thanks in no small part to the surge of Social Media, saw more than 5200 cities and towns switch off in observation. Hundreds of millions of people all excitedly united in support of the World’s largest environmental event. It truly is inspiring!
This year, the WWF has implemented their “I Will if You Will” campaign whereby users tell the world what they are willing to give up in order to create a more sustainable future, or accept a dare or challenge that’s already been posted. What will you be willing to give up ensuring that our children enjoy the same beautiful planet we did?