Let’s use Earth Hour to #reconnect2earth

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Sabrina Almeida

I’ve been negligent the past couple of years and now it is time to get back on track. Switching off in solidarity with global efforts to reduce climate change used to be a big event in my house in the initial years after 2008 when Earth Hour began. In addition to powering off (as much as we could) we’d also use the time to reconnect as a family.

Playing boardgames in candlelight was a huge hit with my boys. They would come to the family room around 8:25 pm, arms laden with their favourites. Scrabble, Monopoly and Hangman were the obvious choices.

Later on, we cheated a bit with a family movie on television but with all the lights and other electrical gadgets in the house turned off. Out of curiosity we’d peek through the window to see what was going on in the neighbourhood. It was heartening to see just one or two houses didn’t participate. (Most lights are on now.) At that time, we judged the non-participants rather harshly till we fell off the wagon ourselves.

One year a couple of families gathered at a friend’s house for an Earth Hour party. This was a great way to reduce electrical usage and for more than 60 minutes.

Then interest waned and Earth Hour became a blur for the past four years or so. In fact, I didn’t even know the date and felt rather guilty after. The boys were also less enthusiastic about shutting down their computers and cellphones which had become extensions of their bodies. So, they didn’t bother to remind me about it.

This year I’m determined to reclaim my Earth Hour. My oldest is in Ottawa so it makes no difference to him and the younger one too might be in school going by his crammed schedule. This leaves my husband and me. I’ll have just one to convince.

It is a shame that we humans though just one part of the earth, are destroying virtually everything else on it. Any effort to change the tide, however small, is worth it.

This year, we are challenged to optimize our commitment by going beyond turning off lights during the designated hour. Adopting a greener lifestyle, for example, can take personal and global sustainability to a substantially higher level.

Eating green is good for the environment and even more so for our health. It is time to take the recommendations on Canada’s new food guide more seriously. After all high consumption of meat and dairy products contributes to health issues in addition to causing greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Perhaps we could make the switch to a healthier diet with a candlelight vegan dinner during Earth Hour, eh?

Going plastic free is another biggie. This might be the hardest habit to break given our dependence on plastic disposables. Yet many countries like India have made the conscious effort and banned single-use plastics. So, I’m not sure why we’re still dragging our feet here in Canada!

A zero-waste lifestyle will benefit our pockets as well as the environment. This goes beyond eating green and a life free of plastics to include a more minimalistic existence. Not many of us are aware that fashion is the third (some reports say second) most polluting industry in the world. It is one of the largest consumers of water. The vibrant colours, patterns and textures that we all love involve the use of toxic chemicals. Increasing textile waste is an unintended consequence of fast fashion as manufacturers tempt consumers with newer and cheaper offerings. The bulging closets in our homes in the Western world, 80% of which is never used, are testimony to our offences. A BBC report on the same left me squirming. Yet the temptation to get this year’s colour and style at cheep rates can be quite overwhelming.

Another media report which said that that more than 50% of food produced in Canada is lost or wasted was equally unsettling. It suggested that at least one third of this could be put to use. It also revealed that while around $21 billion worth was wasted during the manufacturing process, more than $10 billion worth was lost at the consumer level. Which puts us on the hook too! Perhaps knowing that the annual cost of avoidable food loss and waste in Canada is $1,766 per household might help nudge us into action. Being raised in North America, my sons are less conscious about this waste than their parents. In India where poverty was not disguised, on the other hand, we were less inclined to waste food.

With many good reasons to #reconnect2earth, I’m reaffirming my commitment to protecting the environment by participating in Earth Hour this Saturday from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm.

I invite you to participate any way you want. Romantic candlelight dinner, star gazing, walk or bike ride in the neighbourhood or just turning off the lights… let’s act now! -CINEWS

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