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Getting ready for Earth Hour

Originally started in Sydney, Australia on the 31st March 2007 from 7:30pm – 8:30pm, 2.2 million people and 2,100 businesses participated in Earth Hour. Six years later the event has grown hugely, and after last year’s record breaking 6950 cities and towns across 152 countries taking part in the largest voluntary action for the environment, the world is preparing again for this year’s Earth Hour, held on Saturday 23rd March at 8:30pm.

Image courtesy of Regi Fauzi

After the first Earth Hour, cities and towns globally sign up to participate in the next planned event in 2008. When the event occurs in 2008, 371 towns and cities in more than 35 countries participate, with an estimated number of between 50 to 100 million people choosing to observe the Earth Hour. By the time the campaign is held in 2012, even astronauts in the International Space Station observe the lights off rule of the event, and more publicity and a new campaign of ‘I Will If You Will’ is ensuring that more people than ever before will take part in the event.

So what is Earth Hour, exactly? And what does it hope to achieve? Earth hour is “the single, largest, symbolic mass participation event in the world.” It came about due to an idea that people could be called to action to do something about climate change. It is quite a simple task – turn your lights off for an hour, but if everyone in the world does this for the same hour, the energy that is saved is phenomenal, and the united show of concern for the environment encourages change. The effects of six years of Earth Hour are beginning to increase, and the change that was hoped for when the first Earth Hour occurred is already happening.

Image courtesy of Christian Haugen

In Uganda for example, the world’s first Earth Hour Forest was allocated with 2,700 acres of land, and with it came a challenge to Ugandans to fill that land with 500,000 trees to fight against the 6,000 hectares of deforestation that occurs every month in the country. And after hearing 120,00 Russian voices during the ‘I Will If You Will’ campaign, the Russian government passed a long awaited law to protect the country’s seas from oil pollution. And in Botswana a project was launched called ‘One Million Tree – Plant for Life’ which as a direct impact of the Earth Hour campaigns – the project aims to rehabilitate degraded land through the planting of more than one million trees over four years in Botswana.

In the United Kingdom, lights have been switching off for Earth hour since 2008. Iconic buildings and landmarks such as Big Ben and Old Trafford also join in on the show of support for the conservation of the globe, and David Cameron has described this year’s Earth Hour as “a huge symbol of global solidarity, and inspiring display of international commitment”. It’s easy to get involved - you can head to the website and find out what you can do in your country to be a part of this phenomenon. Although taking care of the world and its resources is a nonstop job that doesn’t end when the hour is up, being a part of Earth Hour is a great way to start!

Learn about opportunities to volunteer around the globe with Frontier, with 318 projects in 57 countries.

Tell us if you’re turning off for Earth Hour by tweeting @FrontierGap.

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