Earth Hour originated in Sydney, Australia when in 2007, The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) encouraged the citizens of Sydney to turn their lights off for one hour in support of climate change action. The following year, in 2008, Toronto signed up to take part in the event along with 35 other countries and about 400 cities. Earth Hour continues to be an annual event and every year on the last Saturday of March at 8:30pm, millions of people around the world turn off their lights for one hour.
Citizens of the world participate in Earth Hour to show their support for climate change action while demonstrating the impact large groups and communities can make while working together. Today, Earth Hour has evolved into something much more than just one hour of voluntary darkness:
“Earth Hour is a unique opportunity for you to become more sustainable and do something positive for the environment. It’s been the source of inspiration for millions of people taking steps towards a cleaner, safer future. It’s not just about saving energy for one hour, it’s about going Beyond the Hour with lasting, behaviour-changing actions for a sustainable planet” (Earth Hour).
Earth Hour has vastly expanded and now uses social media to raise awareness and to promote change for a sustainable future. What makes the promotion of Earth Hour stand out from other events is that it has taken typical social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, and designed a campaign that promotes user involvement. An example of this is the virtual light switch on their website, which allows users to choose a switch design and virtually flick it off. Afterwards they are encouraged to share their custom designed light switch with friends via Facebook to spread the word about Earth Hour.
The Earth Hour Website also features several other games and activities mostly directed towards educating youth about sustainability and Earth Hour.
On their YouTube account, Earth Hour launched a campaign this year entitled “I Will If You Will”. This campaign allows users to upload videos presenting a challenge where they offer to do something drastic in return for sustainable changes. It then allows viewers to use their youtube account to accept posted challenges.
Anyone and everyone has the opportunity to get involved in Earth Hour, whether you simply turn your lights of for an hour, spread awareness, donate or commit to long term sustainable changes. On March 31st take part in the worlds largest environmental event in history.