Earth Hour is an annual environmental campaign that brings attention to the effects of climate change by asking people to switch off lights at homes and businesses for an hour at 8.30pm (20:30), local time on the last Saturday of March. In 2016, Earth Hour will be held on March 19, instead on the last Saturday of the month. Earth Hour aims to encourage an interconnected global community to share the opportunities and challenges of creating a sustainable world.

For the first time,this event was organized by the World Wildlife Fund in Australia, the following year received the world’s support, and in 2009 it became the largest mass action in the history of mankind – WWF estimated that it affected more billion people on the planet. Since then iconic buildings and landmarks from Europe to Asia to the Americas have stood in darkness during Earth Hours.

Even, a 2014 study published in Energy Research and Social Science observed changes in electricity demand caused by Earth Hour in 10 countries, and found that the events reduced electricity consumption an average of 4%, Earth hour does not claim that the event is an energy or carbon reduction exercise – it is a symbolic action.  The organization does not engage in the measurement of energy or carbon reduction levels. Earth Hour is an initiative to encourage individuals, businesses and governments around the world to take accountability for their ecological footprint and engage in dialogue and resource exchange that provides real solutions to our environmental challenges.

Nevertheless, there is some criticism, for example, that a lot of people use candles during Earth Hour. The Christian Science Monitor said that most candles are made from paraffin, a heavy hydrocarbon derived from crude oil, a fossil fuel, and that depending on how many candles a person burns, whether or not they normally use compact fluorescent light bulbs, and what source of energy is used to produce their electricity, in some cases, replacing light bulbs with candles will cause an increase, instead of a decrease, in carbon dioxide emissions. But there are always other ways to spend your Earth Hour more sustainably:

  • Change out some light bulbs for LEDs – take advantage of switched off electricity and make an action for your energy footprint reduction real;
  • Be outside: there are so many options such as exploration of your city, stargaze, camping, going for a run or a walk with a friend or pet, gardening;
  • Talk to someone instead of texting or calling them;
  • Take a nap or meditate.

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