Every year, WWF organises Earth Hour. The idea behind it is to bring together as many people as possible to collaborate and commit to looking after our planet.
Earth Hour first launched in 2007 in Sydney, Australia. 2,100 businesses and 2.2 million people joined in, switching their lights off for the hour. Since then, the popularity Earth Hour has grown vastly, with campaigning and action to help combat climate change being a the focus of the movement it has become. 2014 is set to break previous records, with more than 150 countries from all 7 continents, and a total of 7000 cities joining in with the global event.
Starting in New Zealand, at 8.30pm local time on 29th March, Earth Hour 2014 kicks off. Around the world, as each timezone reaches 8.30pm, landmarks, cities, homes and businesses will flick the switches and turn off the lights for an hour. Events are also taking place around the world, and the unusual amount of darker skies mean a number of places host star gazing evenings, benefiting from the reduced light pollution being emitted from towns and cities.
This year also sees the launch of Earth Hour Blue; a crowdfunding and crowdsourcing initiative supported by Paypal for raising money to fight for causes and help protect the planet from the effects of climate change. Over the past 7 years, much action has resulted from Earth Hour, including the creation of the Earth Hour Forest, the increasing of a Marine Protected Area in Argentina and actions to protect oceans surrounding Russia from oil pollution. Current campaigns seek to support Indonesian rangers to protect wildlife, fund a documentary about the Great Barrier Reef and protect endangered big cats in Russia.
If you decide to join in with Earth Hour this year along with thousands of others across the UK, there are many things you can do, from just switching the lights off and spending time with the family, to attending an event. You don’t have to sit in the dark either; lighting candles can give a lovely atmosphere and it’s surprising how much light they can give off. Just remember to be safe; keep candles where they can’t be knocked over, make sure they’re in a heat resistant holder and never leave naked flames unattended. Here are some ideas for your Earth Hour evening:
If you’ve turned off the lights and the TV has gone quiet, why not gather the family round and tell stories. It could be stories from your childhood, reminiscing about family holidays or making up your own tall tales. You could even have a debate about environmental issues and make some pledges for the year ahead to help cut your family’s environmental impact.
Play a game
With light from candles, there are plenty of games you could play, and you may realise how much fun you used to have as a kid playing scrabble, dominos or cards. Prepare in advance by looking up card games online and getting the items you need together so you’re not hunting in the back of dark cupboards or in the attic!
Earth Hour isn’t just about the lights going out; it’s about what happens after. Have a crafting session during Earth Hour, making old boxes into a toy, remembering how it’s fun to be creative instead of watching TV and playing computer games. Or transform old curtains into a cushion cover, teach kids how to knit or crochet or try your hand at weaving or rag rug making. Even old glass jam jars can be reused by painting them to make vases or tealight holders. We throw away so many items, so why not use Earth Hour to think about cutting down on how much you send to landfill, from leftover food to textiles and plastics.
Go for a night walk
Walking at night can be great fun. The world looks very different without the light, and this could be a great way to get an appreciation for how much we rely on artificial lighting. Work out a route in advance so you don’t end up getting lost, or walk a familiar route and remember to wear something reflective if your route takes you around roads. Keep an eye out for bats and you may even hear foxes or owls calling!
Darker skies mean brighter stars, so head out into the garden or a local park, especially if your area is turning out the lights, and see what constellations you can spot. In the night sky, Orion is present, with Taurus not far to the right. Orion’s distinctive three star belt is easily spotted, and Taurus forms a V-shape just across to the East. Jupiter and Mars are also visible at the moment; Jupiter being very bright and you may be able to spot the four moons with a pair of binoculars. If you have a telescope and/or a digital camera, you may even be able to get some good photographs.
Attend an event
There are events taking place all over the world, and plenty in the UK too. From health walks taking place in Brighton and Hove to star gazing and poetry by candlelight at Keele University, you can either attend an organised event or set up your own.