Earth Hour

This is a photo of Sydney Harbour Bridge and S...

This is a photo of Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House during Earth hour (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On March 31st, Earth Hour was observed around the globe. Organized by the WWF in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, it has since spread to 147 countries which turn off the lights of their notable landmarks. These include the Sydney Opera House, the Great Wall of China, the Acropolis, the Brandenburg Gate, Big Ben and the Empire State Building.  For one hour, between 8:30-9:30pm local time, residents of the countries were encouraged to participate as well. I stumbled across this invitation in the Saturday morning paper and was surprised by how quickly my kids decided they would like to join in. They enjoy their video games and tv shows, but they were very willing to put them aside in favor of playing a board game.

As 8:30 approached, we had a fire burning in our wood stove, fragrant candles lined up and a pot of tea brewing. Monopoly was set up on our coffee table and we had a flashlight nearby to aid with reading the cards. We walked around the house, turning off all the lights, shutting down the computers and taking our phones off the chargers. Then we gathered in the family room and began our game.

Monopoly board on white bg

At first it was difficult to see the board and the pieces, but our eyes gradually adjusted and the scent of the candles was very relaxing. As we rolled the dice and competed for properties, making purchases or trades, the time passed quickly. Before we knew it, the hour was over. We reflected on what it would have been like to be without power for days, as our relatives were last fall. They agreed that it was fun for a short time, but were glad we could now turn the lights back on. Before we did, though, we pointed out how this made us aware of our reliance on electricity and asked everyone to be more careful about leaving lights on or running electronic devices unnecessarily. Frankly, I’m not very optimistic that they will follow through; but I am proud of them for giving it a try.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mortar and Pistol
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 02:50:43

    In my first year of law school, I had a huge final coming up. I had tons of reading and studying to do. It was my luck that that night we had a giant thunderstorm and all the power went out. Luckily, my fiance had tons of candles and we were able to light them, and I found myself reading by candlelight while studying for this huge test. What was weird was that I discovered that night something amazing; without all the distractions (tv, internet, video games, etc) and the calming nature of the flickering light, my stress dropped dramatically. I learned that day that sometimes going without modern conveniences can really help with focus and stress reduction. I still employ those techniques today, especially when I have a big project the next morning. I think what you guys did was great; it is always important to remember our reliance on modern technology and especially electricity. Great article!

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  2. themiddlegeneration
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 11:13:25

    Thanks. I enjoyed your story. I try to get my family disconnected from the web, etc during our vacations. I think we all benefit from getting back to nature.

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  3. Susan
    Apr 03, 2012 @ 12:40:49

    Thanks for this Laura. I had never heard of Earth Hour before. I will try to remember for next year. I think it’s a great idea. I, too, try to get my family disconnected, but with little success (sometimes my husband can be the worst offender!) I know one of my children will likely never feel close to nature – he’s definitely a city boy, and I expect him to move to a big city someday – but I think it is still enriching to guide him to things like board games, drawing, and other non-electronic pleasures.

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  4. themiddlegeneration
    Apr 04, 2012 @ 20:03:20

    Have you looked into the community plots for some gardening? Maybe letting him throw some seeds in the ground would give him some real connections… esp. w/ all the emphasis on eating local and organic. Just a thought…

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