An Earth Hour to call your own

Pia Ranada

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Earth Hour 2013 is all about making those 60 minutes extra special for you and the world. Here are 10 fun ideas.

MAKE IT YOUR OWN. This year, WWF-Philippines encourages you to be creative in how you celebrate Earth Hour

MANILA, Philippines – Are you ready for Earth Hour 2013?

On February 27, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines launched the world’s biggest mass “lights out” event set to happen on March 23 from 8:30pm to 9:30 pm.

On Earth Hour, millions all over the world are invited to switch off their lights and electrical appliances for 60 minutes both as a symbolic act of protest against climate change and to encourage engagement in other pressing environmental issues.

You can read about the origin of Earth Hour and the “I Will If You Will Campaign” in a Rappler interview with Earth Hour co-founder Andy Ridley.

For 4 straight years starting in 2009, the Philippines has topped town and city participation in Earth Hour, globally earning the title of “Earth Hour Hero Country.”

This year, WWF-Philippines hopes to defend their title and best the 151 other countries joining Earth Hour.

Make Earth Hour your own

This year, WWF-Philippines wants to shake things up a bit.

If in past years Earth Hour culminated in main events in major cities in the Philippines organized by WWF-Philippines, this year, there will be no “main stage.”

Instead, local government units, communities, families, groups, and individuals are encouraged to create their own Earth Hour events.

According to Earth Hour Philippines’s Maia Melencio, this direction “gives power to the people instead of making it revolve around WWF.”

Here are some fun and easy-to-do suggestions to turn your Earth Hour into something special.

1. Host an outdoor evening party

Who says you need a bazillion lights to throw a party?

Pack your flashlights and headlamps and get your friends or neighbors together for an Earth Hour eco-party! Set it up in your back yard or the village park. Bring some drinks and food, an acoustic guitar or other non-electric musical instruments and jam the night away!

2. Encourage kids to play outdoors

Ask your kids to lay off their Gameboys and Playstations for a while to play classic games of patintero, taguan, and luksong baka.

You not only save electricity but bond over cherished childhood memories of outdoor play.

3. Do a Recyclables Hunt

With the lights off and using only your flashlights or headlamps, go on a hunt with family members or friends around your house in search of non-recyclable containers (like plastic shopping bags and plastic water bottles). Of course, set the time limit to Earth Hour and reward the group or individual who finds the most number of items.

After, discuss amongst yourselves how you can use these materials in sustainable ways and make a commitment to buy recyclable goods from now on.

4. Green that workspace!

If you’ll be at work on the night of Earth Hour, get your officemates together to brainstorm ways to greenify your workspace, whether it’s replacing all your incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs (which use up 75% less energy) or printing on both sides of the paper.

If you can’t turn off your lights during Earth Hour, look around and see what you can unplug, turn down, or use less of.

5. Involve your local leaders

Days or weeks before Earth Hour, ask your local government to set up a “green” community discussion in a public building during Earth Hour. Give attendance a boost by reaching out to local environmental groups, fellow concerned citizens, and other stakeholders.

During the meeting, ask your leaders what they’re doing to make your area cleaner and greener. Also come prepared with your own observations and suggestions for a more eco-friendly community.

GETTING READY FOR EARTH HOUR. WWF-Philippines ambassadors Mike Nelson, Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski (Earth Hour ambassador) and Rovilson Fernandez pump up the crowd for Earth Hour. Photo by Pia Ranada

6. Clean up your street

Get some neighborhood friends together and spend Earth Hour hunting and picking up trash in your street with the aid of flashlights or headlamps.

If you can involve your entire neighborhood to clean up all the streets, even better!

7. Go star-gazing

A night when the city turns off all its lights is the perfect time to go stargazing.

After switching off your home’s lights, set up a picnic where you can get a good view of the sky.

8. Unplug and just chill out

Stay home, minimize carbon emissions from your car and just have an hour of steady time.

Turn off your TV, laptop, and even your cellular phone and just take some “you time” to reflect, read, or talk to your family

9. Give yourself an energy make-over

Spend Earth Hour rethinking your lifestyle and committing to make it greener and more eco-friendly.

From promising to take a bike for short trips to bringing a reusable shopping bag wherever you go, here are Rappler’s 10 Eco-resolutions.

For recycling and upcycling ideas, read Resolutions for an organized 2013.

10. Document, document, document!

Make sure to capture your Earth Hour celebrations! Take a few pictures, record moments on a journal, and take pride in your Earth Hour event.

CHANGE THE WORLD. Earth Hour challenges you to go beyond the hour

Tell people about it by posting your photos and videos on the WWF-Philippines Facebook page or tweeting about them using the hashtage #EHphilippines. Show the world how the Philippines celebrates Earth Hour. This is another way to showcase #PinoyPride.

If you’re excited to try the suggestions above or you’ve come up with a spanking new Earth Hour idea of your own, you can declare your participation by signing up on the official WWF-Philippines Earth Hour website.

At the launch of Earth Hour Philippines 2013, WWF-Philippines CEO Lory Tan said, “Can one step change the world? Ask Neil Armstrong. Can one invention change the world? Ask Thomas Edison. Can one hour change the world?”

Ask yourself. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.