Earth Hour 2009
While there is a lot of press release gold around this event, the larger goal should be to identify little changes in our everyday lives to save energy. There is a possible involvement of 1 billion people in this years Earth Hour. While it is great that all of these people are going to shut off their lights for an hour, think of the impact if these people also made easy changes to ‘go green’ for the every hour, not just Earth Hour. Little actions could include:
- Getting a reusable mug. The average American uses 100 Styrofoam cups a year. If everyone involved in Earth Hour got a reusable mug, 100,000,000,000 Styrofoam cups would not be used this year.
- Getting a reusable bag. For every reusable bag in use, 288 disposable bags would not be used per year. If everyone involved in Earth Hour used 1 reusable bag, 288,000,000,000 plastic bags would not be used this year.
- Getting a lunchbox. The average school child creates 67 lbs. of trash and food waste per school year. This comes from too-large portions as well as disposable bags and single serve items. If everyone involved in Earth Hour committed to eating what they pack for lunch and packing it in reusable containers, 33,500,000 tons of waste.
- Recycling an aluminum can. Recycling a single aluminum can saves enough energy to light up a regular lightbulb for 4 hours. If everyone that participated in Earth Hour recycled 1 aluminum can, we could light up a light bulb for 456,621 years. In other words, we could light up every lightbulb in every residence in America for almost 2 hours.
- Unplugging appliances not in use. When an appliance is plugged in, even if it is not turned on, it is still using energy. Is your phone charger plugged in right now? What about your coffee pot? These items use ‘phantom energy’ which accounts for up to 5% of your total energy bill. Unplug items not in use or get a power strip that can easily be unplugged when items are not in use.
- Eating 1 local meal a week. The average meal travels 1500 miles. In other words, one meal eaten by every Earth Hour participant travels around the globe 60,236,125 times. By eating one local meal a week, we can save a lot of energy as well as support our local economies. (and eating locally doesn’t necessarily mean eating at a local restaurant!)
While there are some that think Earth Hour is not a good idea because it gives the wrong impression that we need to all sit in the dark to save the planet and others participate just to spite different organizations, I think its a good chance to reassess how much we depend on all of our electronic gizmos and look forward game of scrabble while drinking out of my reusable mug and eating a locally grown salad.
Are you participating in Earth Hour? What do you plan to do?