Earth Hour: Little Actions with Big Impacts
March 25th marks the annual observance of Earth Hour, a global initiative organised by the WWF to raise awareness about climate change and promoting sustainable action. During this hour, individuals and organisations around the world turn off their lights for 60 minutes.
Even notable landmarks, such as the London Bridge, Empire State Building, and Sydney Opera House participate and turn off their lights (Earth Hour, n.d). This initiative started in Sydney, Australia in 2007 and has since gained widespread support, with 93% of Australians agreeing that it inspires climate action.
The impact goes beyond being symbolic.
Olexsak and Meier (2014) found that electricity consumption decreased during Earth Hour events, ranging from 4% in New Zealand to 28% in Canada (using data spanning 6 years). The study emphasises the significance of collective action, with regards to sustainable energy consumption and combating climate change.
Source: Pixabay, 2017
With 150 countries participating, the combined reduction in energy demand would be substantial, displaying collective action which overrides cultures and geographies. Hence, there is a need to extend this behaviour change across the globe to other aspects of sustainability.
Earth Hour has also been instrumental with regards to policy change. For example, because of the support and campaigns from Earth Hour, Argentina has created its largest marine protected area, the Galapagos Islands became the first province in Ecuador to ban disposable packaging and the designation of a managed marine area in French Polynesia (Earth Hour, n.d).
From seeing these global impacts, we can understand how little actions can catalyse global change when we work together. The Earth Hour website reinforces this message by emphasizing the importance of adopting sustainable behaviour daily. The website outlines ways you can ‘go beyond the hour’. These include:
Eating more sustainably: eating less meat, fish, eggs and dairy and choosing locally grown foods
Wasting less food: meal planning and composting
Travelling responsibly: taking public transport or biking
Eliminating plastics: stop using single-use plastic
Saving water: taking shorter showers and turning off the tap
Being energy efficient: turning off the lights and air-drying clothes
Protecting natural spaces: participating in clean-ups and not littering
Being a conscious consumer: using natural and biodegradable ingredients
Think of the collective impact we could have if we all took these little actions! If you’d like some more inspiration or would like to share some activities around reducing carbon footprint with your pupils, check out the following resources:
Written by Catrin Lewis, Climate Change Communicator volunteer
Pixabay (2017). Planet Earth
Olexsak, S.J. and Meier, A. (2014) “The electricity impacts of Earth Hour: An international comparative analysis of energy-saving behavior,” Energy Research & Social Science, 2, pp. 159–182. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2014.04.014.
Earth Hour (n.d.) Milestones over the years: Earth Hour, Milestones over the years | Earth Hour. Available at: https://www.earthhour.org/about/milestones (Accessed: January 24, 2023).
Earth Hour. (n.d.) Earth hour 2022 – going beyond the hour, Join One Of The World’s Largest Movements for Nature. Available at: https://www.earthhour.org/take-part/beyond-the-hour
Earth Hour (n.d.) What’s the point of Earth Hour? Earth Hour 2023 – Earth Hour. Available at: https://www.earthhour.org.au/news-blogs/what-s-the-point-of-earth-hour (Accessed: January 24, 2023).