The very first time I heard of Earth Hour was in primary school during a values education class, that week’s theme was about caring for the environment. Since then, Earth Hour was etched as a familiar name in my mind but little did I know that I had been foreign to its intent - I thought that Earth Hour was about saving energy!
Nevertheless, Earth Hour was a piece of my environmental education as a child. I fondly remember bugging my family when I caught appliances switched on in an empty room or when unnecessary disposables were brought home. I thought of myself as a little eco-warrior and the roles reversed as I chided the adults instead. My exposure to environmental issues during my formative years stayed with me and later guided my choice of selecting Geography as my major at university. What better way to learn about the natural world than to study the earth’s systems and how they are being altered?
I started out my Geography major wide-eyed, thinking it would equip me with the answers to go out and make the world a more sustainable place. However, I quickly realised that the complexity of global politics prevented much-needed unity to deliver environmental solutions. I felt conflicted about the possible futility of individual action, but I also started to realise that my concern for the planet mostly manifested as tokenistic actions that were convenient for me.
Feeling a little lost, I decided to find environmental clubs I could join at my school to educate myself and support their causes through action. I explored diverse clubs, ranging from biodiversity which opened my eyes to the bats, snakes and owls inhabiting our school, to a club that encouraged people to try out a sustainable diet for the health of the planet and us. I didn’t have big ideas to champion but I had time to contribute and make a little difference from behind the scenes. Gradually, I began to feel hopeful as I experienced positive changes catalysed by the collective effort of our actions: the unnoticeable biodiversity at school gained attention thanks to an adorable photo of an owl that the club circulated in emails; while sustainable food options saw growing interest even from some stall vendors at school.
As I approach the end of my university journey, I started exploring professional avenues that amplify the good in caring for the planet. And that’s how I chanced upon the invaluable opportunity with Earth Hour – a people-led campaign that celebrates the remarkable planet we share, inspiring action from individuals, businesses and even leaders. I was enlivened by the solidarity generated by Earth Hour as I read how each passing year inspired environmental commitments and change. Earth Hour reminded me once more that there’s power in the collective, we may not be leaders but we can do so much when we act together.
I truly hope that we will value 2021 as the golden opportunity for action as global meetings this year shape an unmissable opportunity with exceptional power to define our future for decades. As the pandemic has shown us that our health depends on our planet’s, we can no longer ignore environmental protection as a pragmatic option to re-build our societies and prevent future catastrophes. This Earth Hour is a chance for us to come together and make a difference. On Saturday, 27th March at 8:30 p.m. please join me, shine the virtual spotlight on Earth to show leaders that we hope for actions that place the people and planet first - our planet is a unified whole and our choices have to reflect that to sustain our lives on this planet.