Earth hour was the brain child of the Worldwide Fund for Nature in 2007 in Sydney, Australia. From 2008, every year at the end of March from 8.30 to 9.30pm the idea is for everyone in every country, individuals, businesses and government, to turn off the lights. According to Wikipedia in 2008, 35 countries participated and landmark buildings went dark for the hour. In 2020, 190 countries participated.
The idea behind Earth Hour according to their website is to encourage individuals, businesses and governments to take accountability for their ecological footprint and to engage in dialogue towards solutions and to 'spark conversations about what it takes to protect our planet'. So the turning off the lights for an hour is just symbolic, what will be done beyond that is what is important.
Earth hour is the largest grassroots movement for the climate and has impacted many legislative changes. In 2012 it influenced the Russian government to protect its seas from pollution. In 2013 it led to the creation of a marine park in Argentina. Also in 2013, Earth Hour came to Uganda which led to the idea to plant half a million indigenous trees on wasteland. In 2014 it led to the awareness of the impact of plastics in the Galapagos which then led to the governmental ban of plastic bags and styrofoam there.
In Australia, as everywhere the evidence of climate change is very much staring us in the face, climate intensities are worsening. We are seeing extreme temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns and drought conditions intensifying. For example, 2013 to 2017 was the hottest 5 year period on record (WWF). Last year (2019 to 2020) the devastation of the bushfires, on people land and wildlife, made it so obvious that our relationship with our earth and its resources needs to change. This year we have had catastrophic floods, the likes of which not have been seen in Australia for at least 50 years.
So you might say that only businesses (especially those involved in traditional power production and mining industries) and government need to make a change. But as individuals we also have power and we can make our voice heard and do our part too.
The idea behind earth hour 2021 is to #switchofffornature meaning thinking about using renewable energies to protect our earth, making the switch to protect our earth. For example, did you know that in Australia, 80% of our electricity is produced from non-renewable sources and that Australia is the biggest producer and exporter of coal? According to the WWF, traditional electricity production accounts for one third of our emissions in Australia.
What can you switch in your life that will make a difference to our earth?
Here are some suggestions.
1. Switch your bank to one that cares for the planet. Choose one which is carbon neutral and doesn't lend to fossil fuel or coal companies. If you have investments, check how environmentally aware the companies are and whether or not they have any screening policies. There are more and more ethical investment funds to choose from.
2. Switch your taps and shower heads for ones that use less water. But also save the water that you run while waiting for your water to warm up and water your plants or garden or even wash your car with it.
3. Switch to renewable energies. You can choose a power retailer that is carbon neutral and buys green energy to supply its consumers. Or if you are one of the lucky ones to have a house, invest in solar panels or other environmentally friendly practices.
4. Whenever you can, choose carbon offsetting to offset the amount of carbon emissions you make in your life everyday. This means that the extra money you pay to offset emissions, will be invested in environmentally protective projects.
5. Choose to buy a few less cheap items more ethically made rather than cheaper and many. This can be for clothes, shoes and everyday household items.
6. Switch to non-packaged foods. Buy in bulk and save your money and packaging. When we stop buying over-packaged foods, companies will stop producing them.
7. Switch to composting. Instead of throwing out your food waste, compost. Or maybe your neighbour has a pet rabbit or chickens who would eat your food scraps.
8. Switch to more environmentally friendly transportation. Public transport is one option, but since the COVID pandemic, lots of people have invested in bikes and there are now a plethora of electric bikes to rent and many people are also buying electric scooters and scooting around the place.
9. Switch to taking your own coffee cups and containers for takeaway. What a huge saving in plastic that will make!
10. Switch to eating less meat and dairy and consume more plant protein. Livestock production is one of the great carbon emitters ( 14.5% according to carbonbrief).
Start little. Choose one item to focus on for one month and it doesn't need to be perfect. Every bit counts.
What are you going to switch in your life for the good of the planet?