Earth Hour Means Lights Out for Us
My husband’s phone started buzzing at approximately 8:13 p.m. on March 22, 2008. “Your house is glowing, you can see it from down the street”, said one text. “Your lights are on!” said another.
We had left our lights on during Earth Hour 2008, the World Wildlife Foundation’s initiative to have everyone around the world turn their lights out at the same hour. Unfortunately, my husband and I were at an event and while we were out, our babysitter chose not to turn out all the lights while putting the three kids to bed. What may have been a good decision for her made us the neighbourhood pariahs the next day.
We live in a super green neighbourhood, the expensive organic store is the busiest on the street, Bullfrog power signs are everywhere and people use their bicycle for transportation 365 days a year. But worse than the (mostly) friendly kidding was that our kids weren’t able to be part of something bigger than them.
So last year we did it up. We got candles and flashlights and each kid was designated a floor to monitor and turn the lights out. We walked to the schoolyard where there was an impromptu Earth Hour party and our kids felt like they were part of a worldwide movement to make the world better and they were. Over 10 million Canadians took part in Earth Hour, and possibly 100 million worldwide, over 4000 cities and 88 countries participated. It is billed as the largest global initiative ever, and you’d have to be a pretty big curmudgeon to not encourage your kids to be part of something on this scale.
It is surprisingly fun to be part of Earth Hour, the kids can sign up on the Earth Hour website and track other locations, there are lots of fun things to do in the dark, and in the city. Since our neighbourhood is so gung-ho, it’s just fun to walk around and connect with everyone else checking to see who left their lights on. The kids didn’t even want to turn the lights back on, and for a short time (like a few days) they were more conscientious about turning the power off after they left the room.
Does Earth Hour make a difference? Sure, it saves a few million dollars in power, but more importantly it gives the kids a sense of empowerment. It’s pretty simple to turn off all the lights and it gives my kids the experience of how small changes can make a difference. My son says doing good things makes him feel a little bit like a superhero. I want my kids to feel like they are part of something larger than them and for one hour on one day they are. I am hopeful that the feeling of making positive change is something that will motivate them in the future.
I’m thinking about having an Earth Hour party – maybe make fondue -- and under the cover of darkness I can ignore the kids even more than usual. We learned our lesson and we will never leave the house unattended on Earth Hour again. And I will warn all my guests to turn out their lights before they come over.