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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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What Did You Do For Earth Hour?


On Saturday I wrote about the many reasons our family participated in Earth Hour.  What I didn’t mention was how enjoyable our time was last year.

 

Last Year


During Earth Hour 2008, we ate a homemade dinner by candlelight, we watched the stars, and we talked as we sipped local wine.  Our hour turned into an hour and a half.  It was peaceful, relaxing, and we were saving power.  And we were doing it along with millions of other people.  In fact, we had such an amazing time that we continued to do this once a week for two months afterward!


This Year


Just as our life and lifestyle here in Seattle has been incredibly different from our life in the country, so was our Earth Hour this year:  we turned out our lights and then took Ellis for a stroll through the neighborhood, checking out all the lights that had gone out for the event.


We can see the Space Needle from our street corner, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it dark before.  It was intriguing to see.  There’s an expensive restaurant at the top, and it, too, had it’s lights turned off – we could see tables lit by candlelight alone. Several downtown buildings also turned off their exterior lights. Though truthfully, it wasn’t as dramatic as I’d expected.


Then we walked through the business streets of our neighborhood, to see if we could see evidence of Earth Hour – we envisioned apartment buildings darkened, restaurant lights dimmed, people huddled indoors by candlelight…  But we didn’t see a single sign of the event during our entire hour-long walk.


That was a bit difficult for me to take.  Millions and millions of people are taking part, but here in a very environmentally-friendly city, in a particularly aware neighborhood, there was very little evidence it was taking place.


This reminds me of the feelings I have some days, where I leave my home and enter a world where people don’t care very much about their energy usage, their waste, their spending, nor the climate as a whole.


Do you ever feel isolated in your actions, in the changes you’re making in your lifestyle?

 

The Future


We have found solace in our community here on the internet, we have lifted each other’s spirits, we have all pushed one another harder to do more, and we are a wonderful community.  So let’s keep bringing people into our world: the one that cares, the one that is mindful, the one that is trying to make a difference, big or small.


Let’s make our community bigger and stronger.  And let’s help it spread throughout our neighborhoods!


How?  It’s a good question, and I think it’s answered differently for each of us.  We are all different, living in unique places and having unique talents.  So let’s use each of our talents to bridge awareness and spark action!


I’ve written some about how to build and strengthen communities, and I will continue to write more about this.  I would love any ideas you all have – as well as any questions we might be able to help answer.


And to be sure, there were some wonderful things that happened on Earth Day.  Check out the photos and videos if you’d like to see a snippet.


So… I walked, fretted, pondered, and looked for solutions during Earth Hour….


What Did You Do?


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19 comments to What Did You Do For Earth Hour?

  • I was at home, drinking wine by candlelight, before I promptly posted and then fell asleep! Having a bit of a cold and being sick I couldn’t stay up any later, even though I did well just to make the symbolic effort. I’ve partaken in each Earth Hour since it started (I’m Australian) and I will continue to do so for as long as it runs. We all need to band together for large displays of solidarity in regards to the environment, even if just for one time each year.

    Having been a reader for a while, I’ve just started my own green living blog to chronicle my journey. I would be so honored if you could drop by for a visit!

    Regards,
    Ecowannabe.

  • Our home was dark, but we weren’t there. We were out of town, dancing at my nephew’s wedding. So, I guess we didn’t really participate this year. But we talked about it, and that we would be missing it, on the way there. I hope that counts for something.

  • I did go to bed and promptly fell asleep. Made me think about living life within day light hours a lot. About how hard it would be.

    Yes, I do sometimes feel isolated in the changes I’ve made. I know my no car stance has made it difficult for some of my friends and for others to realize that there are just some things I can’t and/or won’t do. And when I look around me I still see so many people who just don’t understand the need to change our lifestyles. My neighbor was washing his car yesterday and left the water running the whole time.

  • Lisa

    I sat in bed and by candlelight cast on and began to knit a hat for a friend at church who is undergoing chemotherapy.

  • Stacy

    We sat at the table with some candles and played cards. It was fun but sadly, I had a similar experience to you. Looking around our neighbourhood, no one else was participating, and downtown was all aglow. It can be very disheartening to care sometimes, when you see people littering, throwing recyclables in the garbage, and talking about people who care like they are crazy. A lot of people just don’t get it.

    I don’t know if you have seen it before, but there is a neat website that has some interesting answers to ‘how?’ we can do things. http://www.ted.com has lectures from interesting people about all kinds of different subjects. My favourite topic is ‘A greener future?’

  • We had dinner by candlelight, and then took the dogs for a walk. I didn’t expect that our neighborhood would be participating- my neighbors tend to be elderly and conservative, and if the lights were out, most likely it was because they had gone to bed. I was pleased, though, that my children who live in other cities participated in their homes- makes me feel that I didn’t do too bad as a parent.

    What’s really difficult is when your level of change isn’t shared by the person you live with. I’ve made a personal commitment to not use the clothes dryer during the month of April. I already know this will be tough for me- I don’t like the feeling of line-dried clothes. But it will be more difficult because this is a step my husband simply won’t even entertain. Eliminating paper towels is another difficult thing around here.

  • Melinda, I understand how you feel, but I also think it’s important not to extrapolate too much about how other people feel or care, especially based on an event as controversial and questionably symbolic as Earth Hour. There might be ardent environmentalists in your neighborhood who purposely didn’t participate because of the brouhaha that Earth Hour has turned into (see comments in Crunchy’s post about the people who lit tons and tons of candles, and were busy twittering about being in the dark on Earth Hour during Earth Hour!!)

    I guess, ultimately, I think it’s not fair to say “people don’t care very much about their energy usage, their waste, their spending, nor the climate as a whole” just because their actions are different than yours or mine. And I’m not saying this just because I pointedly didn’t participate in Earth Hour.

    I think the truth is just much more complicated, and people have different responses in how they deal with the environment. But just because someone doesn’t actively try to reduce their carbon footprint doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care … it might just mean they don’t see individual reductions as the answer. You and I obviously think that individuals reductions matter, but not everyone does. And I think, in the end, we have to allow for and accept the multiplicity of opinions and viewpoints various people have.

  • We were in bed, so it wasn’t difficult. It’s difficult to know if anyone around me did it because we are so isolated. I can tell you that no one replied on my blog that they did it.

  • I turned the breakers off, all of them. The three youngest spent most of the hour chasing the cat in the dark. They let the hamsters out in their balls which was a little sureal as one of the balls glows in the dark. They were drawn to the kitchen were I was doing dishes by oil lamp so I kept tripping over them.

    My oldest dd took her bike for a trip around the neighbourhood and stopped in at 7-11 where they had half the lights off. One fellow asked if they couldn’t figure out how to replace the burnt out bulbs and some tippsy customer informed him loudly that it was for Earth Hour you &^^&**9! DD thought that was hilarous :D

    It was funny how often one of the children walked into a room and tried to turn on the lights! The children had fun laughing at each other. We did put a candle in the main bathroom so no one had to walk about with anything on fire to pee, that’s a bit dangerous with a bunch of littles! (When the power goes out here I often will carve potatoes to be candle holders, simply cut one end flat and make a hole to hold a candle. I think it is safer to put these out in strategic places instead of each child walking about with their own candles.)

    Our oldest dd then read-aloud to the littles once we had the dishes done, she used a small flashlight for that.

    Earth hour felt a lttle funny as we don’t use the electric lights all day only once it gets dark, right now that works out to be after 6 pm. So turning them off for only one hour seems a little silly yet knowing that others across the world were also participating made it a bit like a demonstration without the marching and the pickets. Solidarity.

  • monica

    I forgot! Ipromise through the year that I will be more diligent ABOUT TURNING OFF LIGHTS BEFORE LEAVING THE ROOM. There I said it for all the world: I am terrible about leaving on the lights!

    We did however watch a movie: Terminator. Technology is leading us down a dark path. I think another of my favorite movies is Soylent Green.

  • I wrote about it here. Nobody in my neighborhood appeared to be participating either, but I figured it was because I was in the hinterlands of Seattle.

    I convinced myself that, surely, people in your neighborhood would be having a grand ole time with all the lights off, so it’s discouraging (although not at all surprising) that you experienced the same thing. I wonder if they turned the lights off in the kitchen in the Space Needle restaurant as well?

  • I heard on the news today that Al Gore didn’t participate in this. He had all of his lights blazing at his Tennessee estate.

  • 1- I forgot it was earth hour. Fortunately, I had sat down in my easy chair to watch tv. True to form the tv never got switched on, nor the lamp and the man was fast asleep. LOL. I sleep through every thing. First time that was an advantage!

    Do you ever feel isolated in your actions, in the changes you’re making in your lifestyle?
    Nope. I used to. But know I feel as I get older, I just don’t care what others think- So I just keep drumming to the beat of my own drummer.

  • We wanted to do this but it turned out that we were on the train on the way home from London after taking part in the Put People First demonstration that hopes to affect decisions taken by the G20 conference.

    http://www.putpeoplefirst.org.uk/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/35618275@N00

    As Tesco says ‘Every little helps’ :)

  • Ecowannabe, Your new blog looks fabulous. : )

    Judy, I think talking about it and being aware of our actions is the most important part. I hope you had fun dancing! And of course, if you wanted to, you could have your own family Earth Hour any time.

    Deb G, I feel the same way about driving. We still have our cars but drive as little as possible, and it makes things a little more difficult when getting together with friends across town. We see them less often than we would if we weren’t thinking about the impact of driving each time. It’s something we’re constantly trying to reconcile, because friendships are important to us, too….

    Lisa, sounds like a very meaningful Earth Hour.

    Stacy, Ah yes, Ted talks can be very inspiring! I will take a look at “A greener future”!

    Willa, Interesting. I suppose I’m pretty lucky that my husband is supportive and also motivated to change our lifestyle. However, there are things that I do and he doesn’t do, and we’ve made our peace with that. I think it’s ok, especially if it’s necessary for a happy relationship, to have both paper towels and cloth towels, and each use what you like. I’ve found that when Matt and I do this, he often comes around. ; )

    Arduous, I think I didn’t make it clear maybe in my post, but I agree that there are a lot of people (mostly in the US) who didn’t take part in Earth Hour because it doesn’t do enough, it’s too commercialized, etc. And that’s ok… though I think they’re wrong. : )

    But there are also a lot of people I encounter in my everyday life who don’t care very much about their energy usage, their waste, their spending, nor the climate as a whole. Their actions are different than mine to be sure, and it’s because they are motivated by very different wants, different desires, and different values.

    I see your point that some people don’t see individual actions as the answer, but I would argue that that is a small minority.

    And I don’t believe that we can keep going the way we have been going. Yes, we have to respect multiple opinions and viewpoints, but I don’t think we can nor should accept this without trying to change it. That isn’t going to help make the world a better place.

    Willo, I heard 1 billion people did it around the world, so you weren’t alone. : )

    Cassandra, Wow, sounds like you had a great time, and that it was meaningful for your family.

    monica, Admission is 1/2 the battle. : ) And now you have a goal! Sounds perfect. Soylent Green creeps me out, for sure!

    Crunchy Chicken, It is discouraging. I don’t really know why it didn’t happen around here. Was it a lack of awareness? A general apathy? I don’t know.

    I would guess that they kept the kitchen lights on for safety reasons – knives, stoves, ovens… yikes. Couldn’t see it from here, though.

    Red Icculus, Huh. Interesting. I wonder why not.

    Rob, “But know I feel as I get older, I just don’t care what others think- So I just keep drumming to the beat of my own drummer.” That sounds nice. Maybe as I get older that will happen too. ; )

    Maire, Well sounds like you had a meaningful time nonetheless! Awesome. I agree that every little bit helps.

  • Raid Lee

    I will ride my bike to go every where.

  • Canadian

    I didn’t participate in Earth Hour. Honestly, I really didn’t see the point. I try to make real changes in my life, every day, changes I’ll live with on a permanent basis. I don’t have a car. I live in a small apartment. I try to reduce the plastic I buy. I use reusable menstrual products. I bring cloth bags to the grocery store. I use a solid shampoo bar and have greatly reduced the number of beauty products I use. I clean the bathroom with vinegar and baking soda. I keep the heat down and wear sweaters instead. I mend my clothes instead of throwing them out. Yes, there’s lots more I could be doing, and I should work on doing more, not turning off my electricity (hydro-powered) and lighting a bunch of candles (probably paraffin — made from oil) for one hour once a year. A more effective environmental “mass movement”, I think, is the Meatless Monday thing.

  • Kian Gray

    I always participate in the “Earth Hour”. This event is a symbol that we should be more aware of our environment and that we should focus on protecting mother earth.

  • LivingGreen

    I started to bring my own thermal mugs to Starbucks whenever I load up on caffeine. I also signed up on BareLeaf.com to keep me motivated to stay and truly live green.

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