Photo: One Earth Hour lasts longer than sixty minutes

This Saturday is Earth Hour. How will you celebrate and what will you pledge to do beyond the 60 minutes? (Credit: © Earth Hour )

Earth Hour begins at 8:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, March 26th. People around the world will celebrate their commitment to protecting the one thing we all share — the planet. And they'll do it in the dark.

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, when 2.2 million people and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change.

I remember my first Earth Hour in 2008. As soon as we flicked off the lights at home, we went straight to the dining room window. We were making a statement, showing our support for reducing our footprint on the planet. We craned our necks to see who else on our block — residents and businesses alike — felt the same.

Truth is, we were so busy turning off lights, we never took a baseline reading of the neighborhood! (And our dining room window is actually a horrible vantage point.) We couldn't be certain it was any darker at 8:31 than it was at 8:29. The street lights were on, some condos across the street were lit, and the neighbourhood Dairy Queen was still pumping out soft serve.

Two Earth Hours later, I've found other ways to connect with my neighbors and local businesses about bettering the planet-instead of just peering at them through my window. I'll still turn out all my lights March 26 for that hour. But, later this spring marks my neighbourhood's 3rd annual Car Free Day block party, complete with garage sale, potluck, plant swap, battery recycling drop-off, towel collection for the local shelter and, of course, complimentary Dairy Queen ice cream cake. When you plug into your community, it's amazing what you can accomplish, beyond the hour.

What big or small event have you organized for Earth Hour and beyond?

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

March 21, 2011

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