Earth Hour and Conservation
By Melanie Gasmen-Fleck
Earth Hour is a global grassroots movement to help bring awareness to the impact we have on our earth. Join the movement on Saturday March 28th at 8:30 your local by turning off all non-essential lights for one hour. To hear more about the Earth Hour movement and how we can conserve in our homes we've consulted with Nanette Heffernan. Nanette Herrernan is a Certified Sustainability Consultant for schools in California and a major champion of the urgent need for humans to reduce emissions that drive climate change. Earth Hour is her debut picture book.
When did you become passionate about conservation and sustainability? Was
there a moment or event that got you interested in it?
Some of my fondest memories with my mother were out in the garden. We lived in the suburbs with a large fenced in backyard. My father built planter beds at the base of the fence on all three sides. My mother and I filled them with flowers. Today I have extensive planter beds of my own that I fill with vegetables along with 19 fruit trees. I also canned and cooked nearly every meal from scratch with my mother. So I guess you could say I’ve always been passionate about conservation and the environment. It’s how I was raised. Now I carry on the tradition of teaching my children that food doesn’t come from a grocery store wrapped in plastic.
Living a life of conservation and sustainability can sometimes feel overwhelming. What are three simple things that people can do to get started?
It is extremely overwhelming and easy to feel defeated by environmental issues. What difference can one person make? It turns out each of us can make a huge impact, positive or negative. The vast majority—upwards of eighty percent—of our
environmental impact can be summed up in three categories: the energy we use, the things we buy, and the food we eat. Like most challenges in life, the only way to make lasting change is through altering our behavior. This takes time. If we try to improve everything at once it won’t last. I encourage folks to tackle one thing at a time. Can you buy less processed packaged foods? Eat lower on the food chain? Pack a waste-free lunch for the kids? Shop local and support a local business? If you do shop online, try not to request two-day shipping—companies often send trucks and planes out less than full in order to meet two-day demand. Can we put on a sweater or open a window to reduce our heating and air conditioning needs? Reduce the number of lights in commercial buildings and schools when natural light is an option?
What are some ways to get kids involved in conservation?
Children love to help! The best way to get kids involved in conservation is to lead by example, then slow down and ask for their ideas and help as often as possible. Do you compost? Let them help you dump your fruit and vegetable scraps in the compost bin. Do you recycle? Ask them to do a quick spot check of the trash can for recyclable items that were tossed by mistake. Are you trying to save energy? Have them help you do a “lights audit” every evening. Are there lights that could be turned off? Do they have any suggestions for packing a waste-free lunch? Can they think of any ways to save water? Most importantly, keep it positive and let them know their actions count. Why is it important to get kids involved in conservation?
Conservation is a lifestyle. Making behavior changes can seem challenging at first but once they become habit they become a new way of life. Scientists agree we are using more resources and generating more pollution than the planet can support. If we teach children to be conservationists at a young age then no behavior changes will be needed as they become adults.
You wrote a children's book about the Earth Hour movement. What is Earth Hour and why do you think it’s so important for people to get involved in this
Earth Hour—a worldwide movement in support of energy conservation and
sustainability—is sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund For Nature (WWF). It takes
place on a Saturday night near the equinox of March. This year Earth Hour is March
28, 2020. During the event, individuals, communities, and businesses in more than
7,000 cities turn off non-essential electric lights for one hour. Across each
continent—from the Eiffel Tower to the Great Wall of China to the Statue of Liberty—one small act reminds all of us of our enormous impact on planet Earth.
Earth Hour is not about how much energy we save that one-hour each year. Rather, it is a time to pause and reflect how our actions impact the planet and its ecosystems, which is why everyone is asked to make a pledge for what they can to do to help the environment for the rest of the year.
What is one small change that everyone could make that would have the biggest impact on our earth?
Generally, human impact on the environment can be broken down into three categories: the energy we use, the food we eat, and the things we buy. The biggest contribution each of us can make in each of these categories is personal. It may be easy for some to reduce their energy usage by taking public transportation or carpooling, for example, but if you live in a rural area this may not be an option. If you don’t have an outdoor area and your trash service does not accommodate green waste you may not be able to compost. It is more important to focus on a few things we can do to contribute and do them really well, then add on. Over time it all adds up, especially if we are passing these behaviors onto our children.
What is your hope for the future of our planet and the kids who will be in charge?
The science of climate change is undeniable. If we continue on our path of consumption we will be forced to make the necessary changes to adapt. If we teach our children to respect the environment, the choices we all must make today will no longer be choices, but simply their way of life.