It all started in 2007, when a group of people in Sydney, Australia decided that it was time everybody made a small contribution towards saving our planet, instead of just taking and worrying about it. On 26 March 2007, more than two million homes and 2000 businesses turned off their lights for one hour, from 8:30 PM until 9:30PM.
The idea caught on, and the very Earth Hour became a global movement.
In 2008, more than 50 million people from 35 countries took part; in 2009, the numbers rose to hundreds of millions of people, 4000 cities and 88 countries; in 2010, the action spread to reach 1.3 billion people living in 128 countries and over 4,500 cities worldwide.
The lights-out event has seen some of the world’s most recognized landmarks sit in dark: the Forbidden City, Eiffel Tower, Buckingham Palace, Golden Gate Bridge, Table Mountain, Sydney Opera House, the Pyramids in Egypt, the Las Vegas Strip, and many more.
And if you think that switching the light off for one hour makes no difference, note that, according to the power utility in Toronto, Canada, the energy use in that city dropped by more than 15% during 2009.
This year, the Earth Hour is calling upon everybody to take the action beyond one hour.
No need to flinch. No one is expecting of you to replace light bulbs with candles for good or to cycle to your work.
All that the Earth Hours organisers from the World Wildlife Fund ask of each one of us is to think about what else we can do to make a difference: “It is your unique and powerful voice, and how you choose to express it is entirely up to you”, they say. You may decide to re-use an old pair of jeans, to drive to work with a friend, to buy household appliances that use less energy, to stop printing your digital utility bills, to shop for second-hand items on bidorbuy. The list is endless. We hope you will also embrace these easy water and electricity saving habits that we compiled for you.
What is important is to remember that small adjustments add up. It’s about everyone doing little things all the time or at least most of the time. Once you do something, no matter how small, for our planet, share your story with the Earth Hour community.
Earth Hour in Soweto
The Earth Hour blog reports that, together with many other landmarks worldwide, the Orlando Stadium in Soweto will switch off its lights on Saturday 20 March 2011. Countless candles will illuminate the venue for this year’s main Earth Hour event in South Africa, which will be graced with a concert by the famous Soweto Gospel Choir. An experience not to be missed if you happen to be in Gauteng this Saturday!