Earth Hour 2017

Sixty minutes to

remember from where we came,

fires in the night

Tonight millions of people worldwide are shutting off their lights for one hour—a gesture to inspire contemplation of our addiction to electricity, of the polluting energies used to fuel electricity, and of our impact on Earth’s land, air, and waters.

These are possible interpretations for Earth Hour. I would love to hear yours.

©2017 Ontheland

Was Earth Hour 2011 a Success?

Earth Hour came and went last Saturday night.  Was it a success?  I am an enthusiastic supporter of the event, so when I heard a comment on the radio that it’s losing  momentum my spirits dropped.  Then when I browsed online comments from readers of a major newspaper indicating misunderstandings of the purpose of Earth Hour, my spirits dropped even further.

Earth Hour, an annual event from 8:30 to 9:30 on the last Saturday of March, is an educational and inspirational event intended to get people thinking about their use of electricity and other sources of energy. It’s an hour of symbolic action (turning off the lights) and for some, time to make personal pledges for energy conservation over the coming year.

Today I  read  positive press releases indicating that participation in Earth Hour is increasing globally, in Canada, and in my neighbourhood, Kingston, Ontario.  Yeah!

Globally, the number of countries and territories officially participating increased from 126 in 2010 to 134 in 2011.

Across Canada, the number of towns, cities, and municipalities participating increased by 38% to over 420 in 2011.

Kingston Ontario, one of Canada’s many official participants, was proud to report an estimated 3.1% reduction in electricity use during Earth Hour this year.  Despite a very chilly evening– at -8 degrees Celsius–which usually boosts electricity use, Kingston’s reduction was above the provincial average, which was 2.1%.  To add some further perspective, BC Hydro estimated a 1.8% reduction in electricty use during British Columbia’s  Earth Hour. 

The reductions may seem small, but the event is not really about saving energy for an hour–it’s about inspiring people to reduce their energy consumption every hour of every day.  Gerald Butts, World Wildlife Fund Canada CEO, puts it like this:   “Earth Hour is about raising our collective voice, but it’s also a bit like an environmental New Year, providing a chance to relflect on how our planet is faring and what we can do to help.  That moment of reflection is the heart of Earth Hour.”

The celebration in Market Square, downtown Kingston, was very well attended, despite the below zero temperature.   The crowd of adults and children was very happy with  awesome performances by the Twisted Fire Circus and The Gertrudes, illuminated only by the flames of beeswax candles after City Hall lights went out.  The entertainment was opened by the Drummer’s Guild, captured in the above video posted on YouTube.

Earth Hour Pledge to Save Energy with CFL Light Bulbs

  

Source: Scottchan, freedigitalphotos.net

Earth Hour is about joining in with a global event  and about making one or more pledges to conserve energy and natural resources.  One of my Earth Hour pledges is to use  energy-efficient light bulbs in my home.

 
 Compact Fluorescents (CFLs) are currently the best way to go.  Why?
  •  CFLs use only ¼ of the energy used by incandescent bulbs–that means 75% less electricity per unit of light (lumen) and potentially 75% less carbon emissions.
  •  CFLs can be recycled, by disposal at a retail store, such as Home Depot, or at a municipal hazardous waste facility (for residents of Kingston and Loyalist Township, at 196 Lappan’s Lane, Kingston).  For other disposal options, go to www.makethedrop.ca.
  • CFL bulbs last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.

British Columbia restricts incandescent sales.  Did you know that there has been a ban on the sale of 75 watt and 100 watt incandescent light bulbs in B.C., since January of this year?  And in January 2012, federal regulations will also place restrictions on incandescent sales.

What about mercury in CFLs?  There is mercury in CFLs, but the amount is very very small—apparently, less than the amount found in a watch battery or dental filling.  Mercury is present in the environment generally, and unfortunately, also in tuna fish.    When we burn coal for power, mercury and other toxins are released.  It has been argued that using CFLs reduces emissions from “dirty” energy sources, by reducing energy consumption (see “Keep Light Bulb Hazards in Perspective”, by David Suzuki with Faisal Moola, June 2007).

 What if a CFL light bulb breaks?  Because there is a small amount of mercury in CFLs, it’s important to dispose of them at a special facility (see above).  If a CFL should break, some caution is required, to prevent harm to people and pets:

  •  Open a window or door for ventilation,
  • Turn off air conditioner or forced air heating,
  •  Leave the room for five to 10 minutes,
  • While out of the room, get ready to do a careful cleanup,  reviewing the suggestions offered by Natural Resources Canada  or the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Are there other energy-efficient options besides CFLs?  Yes there are.  There are two other leaders in energy efficiency—the key number to know is lumens (light) per watt, also called the “LPW”.  HID bulbs provide 120 lumens per watt,  CFLs offer 60 LPW, and LEDs offer 45 LPW.  CFLs are still in the lead due to lower price, excellent LPW,  and a large range of applications. (For more details, take a look at a bulb comparison chart.)

Another guideline for purchasing bulbs is to only purchase those that are EnergyStar certified, to ensure top quality.  And don’t forget to take advantage of the coupons offered by the Ontario Power Authority. You may have received some in the mail—it is also possible to print them from the following website:  saveonenergy.ca.  They’re effective up until the end of 2011 and include discounts for other energy-saving items, such as timer power bars, water heater insulation blankets, and programmable thermostats for electric baseboard heaters.

 

 

What are you doing for Earth Hour?—Saturday March 26 8:30 PM

Earth Hour is how many days away?  As of this morning, there are eight days to go.  

What are you doing for Earth Hour?  Are you planning activities at home with lights and TV switched off, or will you be out at a community event?  If you haven’t thought of what you’ll do to participate in this global demonstration of support for sustainable energy use, look over the ideas and information below.

Community Events

Many communities have special events–to find out what is going on, check your local Earth Hour website (in Canada, EarthHourCanad.org),  look in a community newspaper, or at an online classified ad site, such as Craigslist or Kijiji.

I hope to go to the Kingston Unplugged event at Springer Market Square in downtown Kingston, ON.  This event, in its 4th year, starts at 6:30 PM and goes to 9:30.  There will be sustainability displays and vendor booths to browse, speakers, and free entertainment.  At 8PM, the Drummer’s Guild and  Fire Circus Show open the entertainment.  At 8:30 (the official launch of Earth Hour) there will be an off-the-grid concert of THE GERTRUDES—powered by wind and solar energized batteries. (Check out a sample of their talent below.)

Another event in Eastern Ontario will be held at the Redtail Vineyard, a solar-powered organic winery in Prince Edward County. The vineyard has invited people to visit and sip wine under solar-powered lighting during Earth Hour  (reservations are required).

Businesses and Organizations

If you are involved in running a business or organization, it may not be too late to organize a show of support—by turning off non-essential lights and letting people, such as members, customers, and employees, know that your organization is behind Earth Hour 2011.  For ideas, take a look at the How to Guides provided under the Take Action tab on the Global Earth Hour website.  There are guides for businesses, schools, community groups, sports associations, religious organizations, hotels, bars, and landlords.

Celebrating at Home with Family and Friends

Here are some ideas for private celebrations:

  • Go for a walk around your neighbourhood or downtown; see how many lights are out—enjoy the spring air!
  • Plan a hot bath with candles and relax for an hour.
  • Have a candlelight dinner.
  • Have nibbles and share about how you plan to promote sustainable energy use over the next year.
  • Meditate for the welfare of the planet.
  • Play board games, card games, or party games, such as charades, by candlelight.
  • Have a party with snacks and singing, acoustic music making, and dancing.
  • Relax, chat, and walk under the stars.
  • Get children involved in an active game, such as tag with glow sticks.
  • Tell stories or read stories out loud.
  • Do some star gazing.

 Earth Hour is a global inspirational and educational event with millions of people taking part–don’t miss it!

The YouTube video below gives a sample of THE GERTRUDES, who will be performing in Kingston Market Square during Earth Hour. 

What Will You Do Beyond Earth Hour?

Earth Hour is going one step further in 2011 with its “Beyond the Hour” campaign.  What’s this about?  It’s about going one step further.   First you show your commitment to the planet by turning off your lights, TV etc. for an hour, starting at 8:30 pm on Saturday, March 26.  Next, you pledge to an action or project, big or small, that will sustain our planet’s health and resources.

There are many places to find inspiration, such as:

-The beyondthehour pledge page (hover over the squares to see pledges),

-The global website  and the Earth Hour Canada websites—look for personal projects or organize an action at your work, school, or community group

– The Youtube video below or go to the Youtube Earth Hour site and watch the longer 8-minute video with many clips of people describing their actions.

Whatever you do, don’t be intimidated by the “high-profile” initiatives–small changes made by individuals have an impact.  For example, my pledges are modest— even one would have been sufficient but these are changes I want to make:

  • conserve more water, for example, by using bath water in the garden,
  • use more energy-efficient light bulbs, and
  • check car tire pressure regularly to reduce fuel consumption.

My inspiration came from a list posted by Earth Hour ambassador, Miranda Kerr.  Here is my paraphrase of items on her list—if the list isn’t useful for you, please scroll down and check out the Youtube video!

  • Buy local produce to reduce carbon emissions from transportation
  • Walk, cycle, or use public transit whenever possible
  • Keep tires inflated at the correct level to minimize fuel consumption
  • Turn off the lights when not in use
  • Unplug computers, TVs, and other electronics when not in use
  • Use less heat in winter and less air conditioning in summer
  • Use chemical-free cleaning products
  • Use cold water instead of hot whenever possible
  • Recycle
  • Use bath water to water garden plants
  • Avoid packaging when possible; choose packaging that can be recycled
  • Purchase clothing that is “ethically made, not mass produced”
  • Use water-saving shower nozzles and low-flush toilets
  • Compost
  • Avoid wasting food
  • Have shorter showers
  • Convert to energy-efficient light bulbs

WORLD EARTH HOUR IS COMING UP!

On Saturday March 26, at 8:30 PM local time, homes, businesses, and public buildings will turn off their electric lights to celebrate Earth Hour™. Over a billion people in over 120 countries worldwide will voluntarily choose darkness for 60 minutes to show their commitment—their desire to conserve energy and slow global warming.

An annual event hosted by the World Wildlife Fund since 2007, Earth Hour™ promotes awareness and inspires action. The message is that:

  • We need to use energy wisely, and
  • We need to take steps to convert to clean renewable resources, such as solar, wind, and tidal power.

Why?  Non-renewable resources, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, create emissions that promote climate change.

Check out one of the Earth Hour websites for an opportunity to pledge your support, to get ideas for participating at home or at work, for event listings, free downloads, and activities for children:

Earthhour.org

 EarthHourCanada.org.