When time is running out, every second matters. Case in point: Earth Hour, which wields a mere 60 minutes once a year to make an impact in the fight to protect the planet. Conceived in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, it has since become one of the most recognized and popular environmental-themed campaigns in the world. For that, you can credit its simplicity — and achievability.
Organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Earth Hour asks you to do no more than turn off your non-essential lights and electronics for one hour on the last Saturday of March. About 2.2 million people took part in that first Earth Hour. By 2020, that number had climbed to more than 4.4 million across 190 countries, including political and corporate leaders. Earth Hour 2022 went on to generate more than 7.8 billion impressions globally on social media channels and other platforms.
Of course, the act alone of switching off your electricity for an hour makes little difference when you consider the scale of worldwide energy consumption. But few green-minded events are as inclusive and successful at encouraging individuals to reconsider their daily habits, reduce their carbon emissions, and embrace sustainability.
At SaltyLama, we believe small acts can produce positive change, even if it’s something as routine and seemingly ordinary as switching from traditional, chemical laundry detergents to an eco-friendly alternative. Nothing quite compares for simplicity with Earth Hour, of course — it’s as effortless as flipping a switch. But if you want to do more — ideally including others in your pro-planet plans — here are some ways to make Earth Hour last a lifetime.
Pledge an hour to Earth
First, you can visit the Earth Hour website and sign up — “Give an Hour to Earth” — to receive updates about related events. Getting involved publicly will likely motivate you to follow through by leading a more sustainable lifestyle — as well as encourage others to do the same.
Get the word out
Whether it’s with social media or analog chit-chat, share news about Earth Hour with your family, friends, and co-workers. As popular as the event is, you’ll be surprised how many people are either unaware of the exact date or too preoccupied to have made plans to honor it. Just by introducing Earth Hour to the conversation, you’re also drawing attention to such environmental issues as climate change. As for what you can do during the hour in question — beyond sitting without power for 60 minutes — here are a few ideas ahead of this year’s event, happening Saturday March 25:
Turn off all electronics for one hour: This may be the bare minimum, but it’s still better than keeping the lights on. Go one step further and disconnect all non-essential appliances such as phone chargers, laptops, microwaves, and coffee makers.
Host friends by candlelight: Invite family and friends over for some candlelit time together. Whether it’s hosting a dinner or just enjoying an unplugged activity (think Scrabble, Monopoly, or some other pre-digital board game), this is a great way to bring people together for a good cause. If you are preparing dinner, consider a plant-based meal, which will reduce your carbon footprint.
Go stargazing: What better time to enjoy some starlight than during Earth Hour? There may be even less light pollution in your area if others have switched off the power too. Prepare by reading up on different constellations and any other celestial bodies you might want to look out for. Who knows what you might catch a glimpse of?
Exercise by candlelight: If you’re feeling like you have energy to burn, working up a sweat requires no electricity. Invite friends over and go for a run. Along the way, you can think of ways to make your lifestyle more sustainable after Earth Hour has ended.
Make a lifestyle plan: If you have committed to reduce your carbon footprint beyond March 25, why not draw up a list of lifestyle choices you can modify? It could be as simple as switching to paperless billing, installing energy-efficient light bulbs, reducing the meat in your diet, or cutting down on water usage by taking shorter showers and fixing leaks around the house.
Drop by your local landmarks: Historic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower participate in Earth Hour — why not see which buildings in your city have gone dark for the hour?
Join your community: Many cities around the globe host Earth Hour events, so why not assemble with like-minded people, whether on a candlelit walk or at an unplugged concert? If there’s nothing going on, organize an event — such as planting trees — yourself with schools or businesses.
Get your office or business involved: If you’re a business owner or manager, why not host a candlelit gathering at your office during Earth Hour? Or if you want to have a more lasting impact, take action to reduce energy consumption and waste in the workplace by going as paperless as possible. Every worker who has ever battled the office copier or printer will thank you.
One hour is just the start
Remember that Earth Hour’s purpose is ultimately to spark awareness and create positive change — not merely turn off the lights for an hour. By making choices in your daily life, you can help lead the way toward a sustainable future. Yes, Earth Hour is a terrific, fun way to reflect on what you can do — and to participate in a global campaign — but the actions you take in the days, weeks, and years to follow are what will truly make a difference.