By Daniel Acosta
SC Contributing Writer
In an effort to spread an environmentally friendly message across the globe, people from 172 countries and territories participated in Earth Hour 2015 on Saturday, March 28 from 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM.
Earth Hour is a non-profit group that originated in Singapore and is organized by the World Wildlife Federation.
While the group tends to focus on a wide variety of movements and issues — including climate change, resource consumption, and tree planting — its most popular movement is “Earth Hour.” This movement first started in Australia on March 31, 2007.
The basic idea behind the movement is that people around the world are encouraged to turn off all non-essential lights in an effort to preserve the planet.
Based on highlights from the official Earth Hour website, Earth Hour 2015 has been a success, contributing to the movement’s gradually growing goal.
In comparison to last year, social media coverage has grown significantly, with 23.2 million more views on YouTube, 377,668,000 more mentions on Twitter, and 4,970,000 more likes on Facebook.
Meanwhile, 10 of the 172 participating countries and territories that went beyond the lights-out event were newcomers. Many iconic landmarks were also turned off. France actually turned the lights of the Eiffel Tower off.
In Pennsylvania, Earth Hour had a special event in Pittsburgh, where over 100 buildings turned off all non-essential indoor and outdoor lighting. This was part of the start of a year-long initiative called “DeLight Pittsburgh,” hosted by the city of Pittsburgh and the Green Building Alliance’s Pittsburgh 2030 District.
What better way to encourage being green than organizing the start of a nationwide movement where people realize how much energy use can impact the environment?
Funnily enough, the suggested attire for the affair was “dark and sparkly” in an effort to stay both festive and practical during the lights-out event.
In a press release, Verizon also announced that they would turn off the lights to 500 buildings across the country, with 100 buildings of their own in Pennsylvania.
Participating employees of Verizon received one of the following: a tree planted in honor of their choice, a contribution made to help an endangered animal, or a free energy-saving kit of their own to practice economic energy use.
According to Carl Erhart, Verizon’s Area Vice President of State Government Affairs, “Earth Hour is a great way to shine the spotlight on the importance of energy efficiency for our employees and our communities. With Verizon’s commitment to the environment in our local community, Earth Hour can help build awareness about smarter energy consumption and management and open the door to innovative solutions for the environmental challenges we face in the future.”
Thanks to Earth Hour, more people are able to visually see the impact that energy use has on the environment and spread the word in a way that can be both fun and responsible.
With big names like Verizon and the city of Pittsburgh supporting this movement 100 percent, it’s only natural to assume that next year’s Earth Hour will be even bigger than this year’s.
Who knows? Maybe East Stroudsburg will host an event to encourage its citizens to be smart and think green.
Earth Hour 2016 will take place on Saturday, March 19, from 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM. For more information, visit earthhour.org.
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