10 things you can do for the environment

Jacques Jimeno
When I switch off my lights this Saturday for the Earth Hour, I will be switching it off for the people who do not even have the option to turn off their lights, in hopes that what I will do will make an impact on their lives

MANILA, Philippines – For my final semester in college, I took on a task to be part of the Earth Hour Pilipinas team. It’s the team responsible for the successful Earth Hour celebrations since 2008. My work involved coordination with organizations, local government units, and national government agencies to participate in the event.

Before joining the team, I had participated in switching off my lights and turning off unnecessary appliances. And upon joining the team, I had also been thoroughly briefed on what Earth Hour is about. 

But the importance of Earth Hour and what it symbolizes gripped me when I made a call to Oroquieta City and my contact there told me they would not participate because they already experience daily hours-long brownouts. In some cities, they could not read and print e-mail invitations because they do not have electricity.

It is a realization that even at this time and given the technology we have, some cities do not have access to electricity. When I switch off my lights this Saturday for the Earth Hour, I will be switching it off for them, the people who do not even have the option to turn off their lights, in hopes that this hour and what I will do beyond it will make an impact on their lives. 

For me, the message of the Earth Hour is not to save electricity in an hour, but to re-imagine the limits of human potential and the power of the collective to create change. The message of the Earth Hour is to create a lifestyle that is sensitive to the environment and to the awareness that everything and everyone is interconnected.

It is for this reason that we all attempt to lower our energy use and lower carbon emissions. The list below are things you can do to go beyond the hour and to live a environment-friendly lifestyle:

1. Take public transport

Cars emit huge quantities of carbon that contribute to global warming. Taking a bus, or train to your destination will not only lessen carbon emission and energy consumption but also earn you some savings.

2. Eat dine-in

Avoid deliveries and take-outs from restaurants, especially those packed in styro and put in plastic bags. Whenever possible, try to eat on washable plates and utensils to avoid the huge pile on the trash and eventually pile the dump sites that take thousands of years to breakdown.

3. Bring a water jug

Water bottles contribute a lot to waste. They must use food-grade plastic which should not be recycled plastic. Therefore, every water bottle used is a new manufactured plastic which adds to the number of non-biodegradable plastic waste.

4. Bring your own grocery bag

Bring reusable bags when doing the grocery to avoid getting plastic bags which will be thrown away afterwards.

5. Change incandescent bulbs to CFL bulbs

Incandescent bulbs consume 5 times more energy than compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. Switching to CFL bulbs will save you energy and money. 

6. Rethink using aircon and shower heater

Too hot? Consider opening the window instead of turning on the airconditioner. You can also limit your use: from 1-2 hours should be enough time to fall asleep. And when taking a bath, switch of the heater if the water is not freezing. Heating and cooling appliances take most amount of energy in the house so try to limit their use. 

7. Turn off unused electrical appliances

Electrical appliances consume energy even when on standby mode. Be sure to unplug all electrical appliances when not in use. It will not only save energy and money, it can also extend the life of your appliances. 

8. Print on the backside of the paper

Instead of throwing sheets of paper, or merely using them as scratch paper, print on the backside of the paper for internal communication in the office, or for homework in school.

9. Plant trees

Under the National Greening Program, or Executive Order No. 26 signed by President Benigno Aquino III in February 2011, all students under the Commission on Higher Education, the Department of Education, and all government employees must plant a minimum of 10 seedlings a year. You can make this a personal project to plant a tree with friends, or keep a garden on your backyard. 

10. Convince a friend to turn green

Saving the environment is not just one person’s job, it is everybody’s duty to look after the planet as whatever harm we inflict on it is a shared harm. Convince a friend to take steps in saving energy, and reducing carbon emissions and see what other the power of collective action can do for the environment. – Rappler.com

(Opinions expressed are my own and not of Earth Hour Pilipinas and WWF-Philippines)