I didn’t participate in Earth Hour. I didn’t do it this year, last year, nor any year before. Do I hate energy conservation, environmental awareness, or do I not believe in global climate change or something? I would hope no one could accuse me of anything of the sort, given previous blog posts on cycling, local food, or composting.
For me, Earth Hour is akin to reposting a status on Facebook, or changing your profile picture to a cartoon character: fun as it may be, it is ultimately useless. (And I say that even despite having been Darkwing Duck for a few days on Facebook, but I did that for fun not under any illusion of it making any kind of difference.) That is, unless it is followed up by some actual action sustaining the cause in question.
I get that it’s an awareness thing. I think awareness of causes is important. But I think they serve little purpose when they require little to no effort on the part of those participating in the awareness campaign. Unplugging stuff and turning out the lights for an hour requires little more effort than copying and pasting a status on Facebook. After that hour is over, what about the remaining 525,540 minutes in the year that aren’t Earth Hour? How many of those rallying behind it are making longer-term changes to their lifestyle in meaninful ways that make a bigger impact in the rest of those minutes?
I’m sure it doesn’t ring as hollow for many out there, and to you I salute your ongoing efforts. For everyone else, making a difference takes effort and work, and sometimes a little money (but it doesn’t have to be that expensive either). My suggestion? Forget Earth Hour and make everyday lifestyle changes instead, such as these easy (and often obvious) ones:
- Replace your lights with CFLs and turn off lights in empty rooms
- Get a programmable thermostat to turn down the heat at night and when you’re not at home
- Spend a little more up front on your house to live closer to where you work, shop, etc.
- Replace your windows, furnace, hot water heater and appliances with more efficient ones
- Use a drying rack for your clothes instead of a dryer
- Compost your organic waste, and make the utmost best use of your local recycling programs
- Buy more local food, or even try growing some of your own
- Bus to work, or consider taking up cycling during the summer months
- Where you do need a car, consider something smaller and more fuel-efficient
There’s lots more that can be done of course, but these are very basic, simple, everyday things anyone can do to make a difference in how they live every year for the entire year, not just an hour of it.