Tonight, many people around the world will observe Earth Hour, an annual event that encourages people to turn off non-essential lights from 8:30 to 9:30 pm in whatever time zone you are in. The purpose is to show support for environmental issues and conservation of our planet’s resources.
Earth Hour is organized by the World Wildlife Fund, a movement of people advocating to protect the planet. Simple acts like now unplugging a device when it is not being used can benefit our planet when we all do it together.
This lights-off ceremony, which began in Sydney, Australia over ten years ago, is now observed in 185 countries and territories around the world. Something that started small, just in one city, has spread all over the Earth.
During the current pandemic, a new source of waste — face masks — has been contaminating our environment. Did you know that about 129 billion face masks are produced each month? In addition to contributing to waste, improperly discarded face masks are harming wildlife that are accidentally eating the masks or getting entangled in them. This is adding to our current problem of plastic waste. In the Asia-Pacific reefs, for example, over 10 billion pieces of plastic are estimated to be in their waters. This harms the coral living there and the sea creatures.
Additionally, while some may think that ocean pollution does not affect humans, in reality, each person consumes around 39-59 thousand microplastics every year! Microplastics have a negative impact on the human body with their chemicals and unhealthy qualities that are from the plastic around them in the air and their food.
Some sustainable solutions include using more reusable bags instead of plastic bags. We can also try to use less single use plastics like putting many items in one bag instead of a few in multiple to reduce the amount we are using.
As we look forward to the celebration of Earth Day on April 22nd, let’s all take one hour tonight (sitting in the dark) to think about simple steps we can take to protect our planet Earth.