Some of you might already be aware that on the 26th of March at 8.30pm (local hour) the Earth Hour will take place.  This event began in Sydney, Australia, in 2007.  For one hour, participants are asked to turned their lights in order to raise awareness about the changes we can make for the planet. 

There is a little controversy around the event as some believe that it is pointless and will not make any difference.  However, it is not about the savings made during this hour, but rather about the savings we could make all year round if we were a bit more conscious and careful.

For me, the Earth Hour began in 2008.  At the time, I had just moved from Waterford to East Cork, in a village in the Irish countryside.  I started becoming more conscious about the way we led our lives in a fast-paced society and realised that little details could make a difference, like smiling to people in the street.  When I heard about the Earth Hour, I embraced the idea.  For more than an hour, I turned off all source of electricity in the house, including my fridge.  I sat down with a blanket, a few candles, a pen and paper, and reflected about the changes I could make.  Since then, I have tried to improve my habits and make them more eco-friendly.  I am not a tree-hugger, but I realised that we could all make a difference just by changing our habits and adopting a different attitude.  At the pace things are going, mother Earth is not going to be able to provide for us much longer and we need at least to slow things down.

That year, I talked about the event on Facebook, trying to promote it.  After the Earth Hour had taken place, a woman emailed me to thank me to have brought this event to her attention.  For her, it had taken an even more important dimension than for me.  She sat down with her two sons and was able to talk to them without the playstation or tv being on.  She then discovered that one of them wanted to learn how to play the guitar and the other one to practice a sport.  She had no idea…

This is what I mean when I say the Earth Hour is much more than turning the lights off for an hour.  It is about reflecting on our lives and the world we live in.

For the next two years, I was working for the Earth Hour, in a restaurant.  I could not imagine not taking part to the event and I made that clear to my boss.  He let me bring the Earth Hour in the restaurant.  At 8.30pm (the busiest time in a restaurant), I turned off the lights, the stereo and the heating in the restaurant room.  I had previously put extra candles on the tables and given customers little flyers in which I explained the purpose of the Earth Hour.  Most customers loved it and thought it was a brilliant idea.  I hope it had an impact on some of them.

This year, I will not be working.  I will probably be at home with a book in front of the fire.  However, I want my Earth Hour to be more than that.  Since the first year, I have changed many of my habits and I keep trying to improve them and find new little things I could do.  I realise that for many, some of these habits are not necessarily evident.  They are in a way, but one might not think of them.  I have thus decided to run a feature on this blog for the month preceding the event.  I will offer tips and thoughts about how to become more conscious about the environment and more eco-friendly.  Four other bloggers will also join me to discuss a topic related to the environment in one way or another: David @Tiny Planet, Shannon @Giraffe Days, Steph @Bella’s Bookshelves and Brigid @Kookaburra.

I hope you will enjoy this feature and that it makes you reflect on what changes you can make to preserve the planet.  I encourage you to comment and leave your own thoughts, suggest more tips or share how you intend to spend the hour.  In the couple of days before the Earth Hour I will put up some posts with all the readers’ tips that have been suggested and with some of your experiences and thoughts.  I think we can learn a lot by sharing.

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