What the heck is Earth Hour?

Held every year since 2007, Earth Hour promotes the well-being of our planet by encouraging people worldwide to take one simple step: turn off nonessential lights for just one hour. During this event, organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), people turn off their lights to raise awareness of one of our biggest environmental challenges — climate change.

Individual homes, businesses, and even entire cities across 162 countries and territories went dark in 2014. Supporters of Earth Hour say this event is a chance for people from all around the world to come together and inspire each other to take action on environmental issues.

When and where is it?

In 2015, Earth Hour will be on Saturday, March 28 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. in your time zone.

How can I participate?

You can join in by simply turning off your lights at home during that specific hour. You can attend an Earth Hour gathering near you or donate toward an Earth Hour project via Earth Hour Blue, the event’s fundraising campaign. If you really want to get serious, you can even organize an event for your business.

Event coordinators believe the power of a crowd gathered together behind a common cause is what can really make the event so successful. The hope being that if everyone comes together, people can truly make a difference.

Will all lights really be off?

Earth Hour only promotes turning off certain lights in homes or buildings, like lamps and overhead room lights. Safety lights, such as hallway night-lights, should be left on.

If you have nyctophobia (fear of darkness), don’t worry. While famous monuments, castles, and museums have participated in the past, community lights such as traffic signals and street lights will stay on. And it’s highly unlikely that all buildings everywhere will participate, so you won’t be in a complete blackout.

How did Earth Hour start?

WWF hosted the first Earth Hour in Sydney, Australia in 2007. For the inaugural event, 2.2 million people and over 2,000 organizations went lights-out. Today, it’s grown into a larger movement that raises awareness for numerous environmental issues.

Since that first symbolic event, Earth Hour has evolved into the world’s largest environmental grassroots movement, with participants from over 7,000 cities. The organizers expect hundreds of millions of people to participate in 2015.

Does Earth Hour actually help the planet?

As with most things in the public eye, critics say Earth Hour isn’t the most effective way to tackle climate change. Even when the lights are out, power companies continue generating spare capacity in preparation for when the lights are turned back on. Therefore, the event doesn’t really reduce emissions. So what’s the point?

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According to organizers, it’s not about conserving energy for an hour, but is rather symbolic of a much bigger effort. Being part of the solution to local climate issues goes a long way in finding a solution to the larger cause of climate change for the planet.

What changes has Earth Hour inspired?

From youth awareness to political initiatives, Earth Hour strives to address sustainability issues in various parts of the world.

Action has been taken on different environmental issues that affect each country that participates. Unified actions that resulted from Earth Hour include fighting deforestation in Uganda (which loses 6,000 hectares of land to it every month), a ban on arctic exploration of oil in Russia, and even crowdsourcing solutions to the haze in China. While these objectives and goals may seem very different between regions, the underlying mission is the same — ensuring sustainability for Earth.

Here are just a few statistics from 2014:

  • Singapore: More than $20,000 was raised to campaign for decreased wildlife crime in South East Asia
  • Indonesia: Young people rallied around improving public transport, energy saving methods, and reducing use of paper and plastic
  • Russia: $106,000 was crowdfunded to protect endangered species like the Amur leopard, snow leopard, bison, polar bear, and Siberian tiger
  • Galapagos: Certain plastic products were banned to support marine conservation efforts
  • Kazakhstan: The country committed to planting 17 million trees

The event’s initiatives for 2015 include lobbying for legislation on access to solar power in Nepal, teaching students about climate change in European and African schools, and working with farmers and fishermen in Australia and Colombia to promote sustainable agriculture and fishing.

Esurance loves the Earth too

If you’re supportive of all things earth-friendly, you’re in good company. Esurance approaches things with the environment in mind. See how we try to make a difference.

And if you’re planning to turn your lights off this Saturday, have fun in the dark!

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Safe and smart

about Meghan

During her time as an editor for the Esurance creative team, Meghan “layed the smackdown” on style and grammar rules. Hailing from Chicagoland, she’s written about everything from industrial welding to dog fashion. She spends her weekends attending live comedy shows (likely laughing so hard she cries) and reveling in the art of well-mixed cocktails.