Just over a month ago, at 8:30pm March 31, a record 152 countries and territories and more than 6,700 cities, towns and municipalities took part in the biggest Earth Hour event so far. A pretty inspiring result for a campaign which started in Sydney only several years ago!
Since then some incredible stories have demonstrated the hope and strength of this symbolic event around the world.
Here are just a few of the ways it was shaped and celebrated across the continents:
Here at home in Australia, the second annual WWF Earth Hour Awards recognised the efforts of Australian businesses, schools and individuals to make a difference to the environment.
Award winners included a small sustainable tourism business assisting travel operators to measure and improve their environmental footprint, through to a secondary school in Queensland where students are working to protect nesting sites for marine turtles.
At the same time, more than 150 Earth Hour Unplugged events were held across the country, raising funds for WWF-Australia’s vital conservation work and bringing families and communities together.
One standout story was that of Carly Earl and her efforts putting together a festival on the Sunshine Coast. Despite her business being completely flooded the week before Earth Hour, Carly forged ahead and hosted the inaugural Eco River Festival. Over 200 people attended, enjoying the evening with friends and families and donating over $700 to WWF.
As Australians marked the hour with local Unplugged events, in neighbouring Indonesia communities pledged their action for the “Ini Aksiku! Mana Aksimu?” campaign on the streets (see inspiring images from across the archipelago on Tumblr, Flickr and Twitter). Known as Ini Aksiku for short, the campaign was responsible for expanding the number of Earth Hour cities in the country from 5 in 2011 to 21 in 2012 – a massive jump due largely to the time and dedication of volunteer teams. City volunteers are now actively developing a viral online campaign to share their massive public actions for the environment.
For Earth Hour 2012 Greece asked what else could be saved if we protected nature, while locals in Tripoli and Benghazi celebrated the opportunity to create environmental awareness in a country that was a war zone just months ago, and Italy asked its population to confess its “green sins”.
WWF China used Earth Hour to remind its citizens that “There’s an environmentalist in each of us”. Jing Hui, communications director of WWF-China said, “Throughout the day, we are bombarded with promises of bargains, comfort, convenience, and boosts to personal image. It becomes easy to forget our innate love of nature and that nature should be an important factor in decision making. These advertisements remind us; they champion the re-emergence of nature in decision making.”
So now that the hour’s over, what’s next?
Earth Hour is more than switching off the lights for an hour each year. It’s about acknowledging our personal impact in the planet and making some changes to live more sustainably.
Whether it’s switching to a green energy provider, making a commitment to drive less, or adopting some sustainable shopping habits, there are many ways we can take action.
What’s your ‘beyond the hour’ pledge? Make it public! Please share it now on our Facebook page or post it below as a comment.