Earth Hour is an annual international event created by the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature/World Wildlife Fund), held on the last Saturday of March, that asks households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights and electrical appliances for one hour to raise awareness towards the need to take action on climate change. It was pioneered by WWF Australia and the Sydney Morning Herald in 2007, and achieved worldwide participation in 2008.
Earth Hour will next take place on Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 8:30 - 9:30 pm, local time.
Why Should I Vote Earth?
This year, Earth Hour has been transformed into the world’s first global election, between Earth and global warming. For the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background have the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote – Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth, or leaving them on is a vote for global warming. WWF are urging the world to VOTE EARTH and reach the target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen 2009. This meeting will determine official government policies to take action against global warming, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol. It is the chance for the people of the world to make their voice heard.
Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. In 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Rome’s Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness.
In 2009, Earth Hour is being taken to the next level, with the goal of 1 billion people switching off their lights as part of a global vote. Unlike any election in history, it is not about what country you’re from, but instead, what planet you’re from. VOTE EARTH is a global call to action for every individual, every business, and every community. A call to stand up and take control over the future of our planet. Over 74 countries and territories have pledged their support to VOTE EARTH during Earth Hour 2009, and this number is growing everyday.
We all have a vote, and every single vote counts. Together we can take control of the future of our planet, for future generations.
Celebrating Earth Hour as a Family
But as much as Earth Hour is a global event, it is also an event for the family. Here are 11 ways to get kids involved and engaged year-round in climate change:
- Make a plan: Use this year’s Earth Hour to discuss what your family can do year-round to take action for the planet, like turning off the lights when no one is in the room and using cold water to wash your clothes. Engage your children in conversation and have them come up with their own ways to save energy, limit waste and make a positive impact on the environment. For ideas visit TheGoodLife.wwf.ca.
- Community involvement: What Earth Hour events are taking place in your community? Already more than 100 cities and municipalities across Canada have signed on to take part in Earth Hour. Find or post other events taking place in your community where you and your children can get involved. Feeling part of a community with purpose will prompt your kids to start seeking out opportunities and get involved on their own.
- Plant the seed: Help your children plant an indoor spice garden. Not only is this a great way to produce home grown herbs and add flavour to your meals, it also reduces food miles associated with buying food at a grocery store that may have been shipped from thousands of miles away.
- Candle-lit games night: What a great time to get out the board games or play a game of flashlight tag. Get the family gathered for some old fashioned quality time to remind your children that games can be played without a computer or TV screen and that fun can be had with mom or dad.
- Take a tour: Explore your neighborhood and travel around the city using fun and smart means of transportation - walk, bike, skateboard, scooter, or take the bus and show your kids that travel can be fun and sometimes faster when you leave your car at home.
- Smart shopping: Provide some hands on education with a shopping trip that includes a list to start, so that you stick to the purchases you need and let your children help find the smart alternatives like environmentally friendly cleaners, energy saving light bulbs and recycled products – and don’t forget to bring your reusable bag.
- Scavenge and save: Set up a scavenger hunt in and around your house to mark off areas where energy can be saved. Place flags or stickers in spots where appliances or computers can be unplugged and lights turned off, highlighting the spots where they can make a difference.
- Breakdown the buzz words: Talk about the meaning behind commonly used terms like climate change, carbon foot print, eco-friendly and global warming. Sometimes words get thrown around and are not actually explained keeping youth from getting inspired and involved.
- Do the math: Calculate the ways you can save energy in and around your home and use comparisons to help your children understand the impact they can have – not only on the household bills but on the environment as a whole. Explain the savings and benefits that result from every step they take to reduce the use of energy. To determine the actual greenhouse gas savings associated with specific action visitTheGoodLife.wwf.ca.
- Answer the call of the wild: Take this opportunity to look at other threats to our environment. Talk to your children about endangered animals and what is threatening their survival. Together you can brainstorm unique ways to help and learn what organizations such as WWF-Canada are doing to aid species at risk.
- Family Feud: Nothing like pitting mom against dad and brother against sister in some light-hearted competition to get inspired! Healthy competition, whether it’s tracking and comparing the carbon foot print of each household member or creating a family challenge get your household charged, can make saving energy a sport where everyone can win!