Earth Hour: Enlighten Yourself, Sit In The Dark

Earth Hour happens this Saturday at 8:30 p.m. (your) local time... Are you participating? 

Sponsored by the World Wildlife Federation, this event is taking place in most communities across Canada.  Neighbours will be getting together for moonlight walks, families will have supper by candlelight, and such.

Turning off lights on March 27 is great, but we can all make a difference for the environment 365 days a year:
  1. Leave the Car at Home. If you have an errand to run close by or need to take the kids to school, consider walking or cycling instead of driving. You'll get more exercise and help the environment by reducing your carbon footprint. If walking is not an option, take public transit. Driving just 10 per cent less will save almost 600 kgs in annual CO2 emissions.
  2. Eat Local. In Canada, almost 60 per cent of our food is imported and the average food product travels 2,000 km before it reaches your plate so next time you buy look for food grown close to home. It will be fresher and save harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
  3. Fly Less. The next time you plan a trip, save the emissions associated with flying and have a fun, local vacation. Canada is a huge tourist destination so enjoy the nature and attractions right here at home. Cutting out just one overseas flight this year can save 2,600 kilograms of CO2 emissions.
  4. Be Energy Efficient. If you are buying a new appliance look for one with a high energy efficiency or retire the beer fridge. Refrigerators are one of the top energy guzzling appliances in the home. Updating your old model will save you about $120 a year on your energy bill and prevent about 240 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions. 
  5. Use Green Power: Fossil-fuel powered facilities are a leading industrial source of carbon dioxide, one of the primary greenhouse gases linked to causing climate change. To get off dirty power, research if there are green energy providers in your area. These are companies that provide your home with power generated from renewable energy sources such as wind, low-impact water power, and geothermal energy. It may cost a little extra to switch but the benefit to our planet makes it worth it. 
  6. Get a Home Energy Audit – and act on it! Chances are your home is wasting a lot of energy and a lot of money. A Home Energy Audit shows you how your home uses energy and where it is leaking. It identifies improvements you can make to your home's heating, cooling, hot water heating and other energy uses. Making those improvements could result in hundreds of dollars in energy savings each year – not too mention a large reduction in your carbon footprint. Plus, many of the energy-saving upgrades will qualify for up to $5,000 in rebates from Natural Resources Canada. 
  7. Hang Dry Your Clothes: Instead of using your energy-guzzling dryer, hang up your clothes to dry either outside in warm weather, or in your laundry room or basement in the winter and on rainy days. If you’re worried about wrinkles you can throw them in the dryer for 5 minutes and then hang dry them the rest of the way. This energy-saving tip could save you about 200 kg of carbon dioxide and will reduce your energy bill. 
  8. Work From Home: Discuss with your boss if it’s a possibility to work from home for part of the week. It saves on your commute time, keeps roads less congested and you can work in your pajamas. 
  9. Unplug Unused Appliances: All electrical devices draw energy even when not switched on. Take the easy step of unplugging things when they’re not in use or use a power bar which can be easily turned on and off with the flick of a switch. 
  10. Tell Your Local Official: Write a letter or email outlining your concern for the environment to your local elected official. Encourage your friends and family to do the same.

You can also find more information and join in on the conversation with Earth Hour on Facebook and Twitter.

Earth Hour really is a great way to send a message.  So enlighten yourself, and sit in the dark! 

Jim Datlen is a sales representative with Century 21 Millennium Inc. in Brampton, Ontario.

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