On observing Earth Hour on March 26

By Hind Al-Abadleh

Earth Hour (http://www.earthhour.org) is coming up this year on Saturday March 26, 2011 starting at 8:30 p.m.

Many, if not all Canadian cities, will be observing this 4-year old global event that started as grassroots environmental initiative in Sydney, Australia.

Of all the events planned by the numerous community groups, I’d like to highlight those by faith communities.

The Green Awakening Network started a blog (http://greenawakeningnetwork.blogspot.com/) listing the many events planned by faith communities in the GTA for this occasion.

At the family level, Earth Hour provides a unique opportunity for families committed to environmental issues.

There are countless activities a family can plan to observe Earth Hour.

Since the theme for this year is ‘Go Beyond the Hour,’ a family can hold a special “family circle” to spend this Hour reflecting and sharing thoughts on what it means to each family member.

The discussion circle would conclude by appointing the family member most passionate about environmental issues as the family’s “Environmental Officer”.

The duties of the Officer would be to:

  • * observe and monitor the family’s habits in electricity usage, water consumption, and recycling,
  • * assess usage of private versus public transportation, cycling or walking,
  • * assess choices made when purchasing household consumables, electronics and other big-ticket items.

Following this special family meeting, the Officer would then enforce environmentally- friendly habits through praise when the family gathers for dinner or tea.

They could also issue “green tickets” if certain habits need to be worked upon to be more inline with the family’s commitment to improving their “environmental performance”.

When Earth Hour comes the following year, the family would sit together again and reflect back on their performance, share memorable stories and laughs, and decide to either reappoint the same Officer or elect a new one.

As Dr. Suzuki said in his latest documentary, Force of Nature, “There is no environment out there and we are here…We are the environment”.  Hence, our commitment to better our habitat is in essence a commitment to our selves… and it all starts with the nucleus of every society, the family.


*Dr. Hind Al-Abadleh is an associate professor of chemistry at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, ON.