COLUMN: Dedicate an hour to Mother Earth

During this year's Earth Hour, really consider your carbon footprint and environmental impact on the planet.

COLUMN: Dedicate an hour to Mother Earth

This Saturday, March 23 at 8:30 p.m., cities around the world, including Surrey and Delta, are going to turn off their lights and electronics for Earth Hour.

While the intention is honourable, does Earth Hour really have a “sustainable” effect on environmental awareness?

This is the question and criticism that is often raised. As a strong supporter of any event that raises awareness about important social issues, I do not question the importance of Earth Hour.  However, I do urge individuals to really consider their carbon footprint and environmental impact even after Earth Hour has ended.

This year, truly think about the importance of your actions and the ramifications that everyday tasks can have on our planet. Take the hour to contemplate how you are going to bring environmental change to this world and consider making a resolution on how you can help your planet.

As a city that is in a phase of dramatic growth and development, it is important for Surrey and its residents to become better environmental citizens, so we can create a sustainable community.

Surrey has a heritage of forestry and green spaces. Certainly, the skyscrapers and development projects in Central City are making for a vibrant and urban community. The city’s recent transition to a new waste diversion program is also a progressive move and shows how civic politics is also keeping the environment in mind.

Yet, for a city that prides itself on its environmental roots, our Earth Hour results for last year were quite bleak.

Both Surrey and Delta placed extremely low on Earth Hour results, saving just 0.9 per cent and 1.2 per cent of electricity, respectively.

This year, it’s important that all residents turn off their lights for Earth Hour and build a commitment for continued attention to our environment. As the CEO of BC Hydro writes, “If people applied the same simple conservation measures for even one hour every day for the whole year, the combined savings would power close to 4,000 homes for an entire year.”

For a city that is home to a large youth population and increasing newborns, the environmental actions that we take today are going to have a lasting effect on generations to come.

It is often that we hear about the importance of taking small steps, such as turning off the lights, conserving water, recycling and reusing items, to reduce our carbon footprint. Although suggestions like Reduce, Reuse, Recycle may seem clichéd or redundant, it is imperative that we heed this advice and apply it to our everyday life.

We must not underestimate the power of our small steps. Consider this: using the “clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full…can save up to 1,000 gallons a month,” according to Water Use it Wisely.

So on March 23, remember to turn off your unnecessary lights and electronics at 8:30 p.m.

To celebrate Earth Hour with fellow residents, visit Central City Plaza from 7-9:30 p.m. for the Earth Hour Celebration.

And if you’re staying at home, remember to really consider how you can make small changes in your daily life to become more eco-friendly and tell your young ones about the importance of environmental sustainability.

It is on New Year’s Eve that we often make a resolution on how we can improve our work or life. On Earth Hour, take 60 minutes out of your life to consider an action that can help our whole planet survive and thrive for the coming centuries. It is the least we can do for a planet that gives us so much.

Japreet Lehal is a student at Simon Fraser University Surrey. He writes regularly for The Leader.

Surrey North Delta Leader