Start your Earth Day celebration early by observing Earth Hour on Saturday, March 26, at 8:30 PM local time.
Shut down the computer, unplug the TV and stereo, flip the switch on every light in the – no! – don’t touch that cell phone!
It may feel weird at first, but think of the possibilities: you can take a walk under the stars, converse with the live human beings in the vicinity, tell ghost stories by candlelight, sing or play an acoustic instrument, or just go to bed early for the night.
In 2007, 2.2 million people and 2,000 businesses in Sydney, Australia celebrated the first Earth Hour organized by World Wildlife Fund. They turned off their lights and unplugged all nonessential appliances to call for action on climate change. The movement has grown rapidly since then, and last year people in 128 countries and territories joined the cause.
Why join? 2011 is already shaping up to be a rough year in terms of climate change. Severe weather has hit just about every place on the planet, and two recent studies found more evidence linking extreme weather events to human-caused climate change. At the end of January, the World Meteorological Organization announced that 2010 tied 2005 and 1998 for the hottest year on record. Also, the eastern cougar was just officially declared extinct. It’s our responsibility as citizens of this planet to work to preserve it as a habitable place for future generations of humans, plants, and animals.
Yes, Earth Hour is only an hour, but we can use that hour as a jumping-off point for doing more to live sustainably. Check out the WWF’s Beyond the Hour site. There you can tell them how you’re going to take action and read other people’s ideas.
Some noteworthy ideas: The Government of Nepal “has made a commitment to put a complete stop to tree-felling in the Churiya Range, a vital ecological and sociological forest area spanning around 6,500 square km.” Mengniu Dairy in Inner Mongolia is doubling the number of milk cartons it recycles and increasing its use of Forest Stewardship Council-certified packaging. A seven-year-old girl in Australia is leading her school’s increase in recycling and reduction of energy waste. The school now also shuts their blinds instead of using air-conditioning to cool the rooms. Chinese actor and singer Li Bingbing will help lower carbon dioxide emissions caused by meat production and consumption by being vegetarian for 100 days this year. Closer to home, real estate services giant CB Richard Ellis plans to exceed its previous year’s record of turning the lights off over more than 254 million square feet of real estate.
That’s a lot of real estate, but there’s plenty more that you can do.
Check out these Earth Day lesson plans from our free lesson plan bank:
Protecting the Planet has teens discuss and write about rainforest destruction and what it means to be a “global” citizen.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle has teens create a large painted mural with the Pillar of citizenship, reminding people of their responsibilities as citizens of the world to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
How to Clean Up an Oil Spill, for 9-11-year olds, helps students think about what it means to be a good citizen when dealing with environmental disasters. As they tackle an oil spill in their classroom, they will apply critical thinking skills to a real-life situation and learn what they can do to be good citizens.
Character Bookmarks, for 6-9-year olds, uses seed paper to conduct a simple experiment to monitor the growth of the seeds, while encouraging students to reflect on the values of the Six Pillars of Character.
Recycling Responsibly, also for 6-9-year olds, helps students become more responsible about waste management by discussing which objects to recycle and reuse and making a chart reinforcing this awareness.