We’re all familiar with the annual Earth Day, but what about Earth Hour? On March 29, 2008, Chicago joined 370 cities in 35 countries in turning off the lights for one hour to raise awareness about global warming. Thousands of households and more than 200 buildings and city sites, including the John Hancock building and Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, participated in the historic hour of darkness.
This year’s Earth Hour, from 8:30-9:30 p.m., March 28, is expected to be even more spectacular. Why not take part in this unique eco-event by turning off the lights at home for 60 minutes? Take it a step farther, and turn off all electronics and unnecessary electric equipment. Earth Hour can be a great opportunity to teach your children about making a difference for the environment, be part of a worldwide event and spend time together.
In the days leading up to Earth Hour, talk with your family about what the event is all about. Visit www.earthhour.org for information and to sign up to participate. Ask your children where they think electricity comes from and how it works. Show them your electric bill and talk about why electricity costs money. For great kid-friendly explanations, pictures and games about energy usage, visit www.powerhousekids.com, www.energystar.gov/kids and www.energyhog.org.
Here are some ideas for making the most of Earth Hour without lights and the computer:
• Have an indoor picnic. Use tea light candles to heat chocolate fondue or roast marshmallows.
• Play board games by candlelight.
• Have a night sky viewing party with neighbors.
• Enjoy your family’s musical talents by having a concert or sing-along.
• Tell stories. Generate an original story together by taking turns building on to it. Add visuals with shadow puppets.
• Pull out the stationery and write letters the old-fashioned way.
Don’t miss out on extending this experience. Talk about ways you can continue to conserve energy and create a plan to follow through. Try having a family "energy conservation challenge" and set a goal for reducing your electric bill. Remember to celebrate when the goal is met.