Ways to ‘Celebrate’ Earth Hour

March 23, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Fire artists of the group "Seelenfunken"

Earth Hour strikes once a year, when overwhelming peer pressure forces you to abandon the loving glow of your television and comforting buzz of your incandescent light bulbs. If you tend to be green-minded, it’s a time to put ethics into action and turn off the lights to turn up awareness of climate change.

Well technically, all Earth Hour requires is to turn off non-essential lights for an hour. But that seems a little too easy. And boring. So here are some suggestions to take Earth Hour to the next level.

Disclaimer: Some of these ideas may not be entirely in line with the intentions of Earth Hour. For example, lighting up your neighbourhood with tiki torches (see Blackout Block Party) might negate any environmental benefits of turning out your lights. And maybe Earth Hour is supposed to be a slightly sombre affair, a time to reflect on how your being too lazy to turn off the bathroom light is making trouble for polar bears.

But who doesn’t love an excuse for a quirky night by candlelight? Nobody I know, so read on for ideas to turn Earth Hour into a night to remember.

Living Room/Backyard Campout

Depending on where you find yourself in this fine country, March 31 can still be hit or miss as far as the weather goes. So if a backyard campout sounds unreasonable, you can still pitch a tent inside.

To upgrade this living room campout, collect every cushion in the house and build what can either be a personal sanatorium or an upholstered igloo.

Of course, it doesn’t have the same feel if you can just flick on the lights when something rustles in the night, so you’ll need some flashlights to look around. And why not make the kitchen out of bounds and reclaim your hunter/forager instincts by setting up a survival scavenger hunt around the house. Hide fruit and cans of beans. When it’s time to cook, toss a couple burgers and potatoes on the camp stove out in the garage.

Preparation:

Some good stories
Flashlights and beef jerky
A songbook and ukulele
Marshmallows roasted by candlelight

Go Medieval

There was a time when light switches were a two-part instrument—tinder box and candle snuffer. Those were simpler times, with luxuries most Canadians wouldn’t willingly exchange for the Lazy Boy iPad lifestyle we have now.

But every once in a while you need a break from all this modern mumbo jumbo, so why not go medieval on Earth Hour. Turn off the lights, unplug the microwave and roast a pig over a spit in the backyard.

Okay, that might be a little over the top for the urban environmentalists Earth Hour aims to inspire. But instead of looking at it as one-hour of stubbed toes and worrisome shadows, why not make it into a real event. Don some costumes, invite the Johnsons over, and talk in Olde English Accents while sipping on mead.

Preparation:

Costumes-ponchos made from burlap sacks for the peasants, togas made from satin curtains for the nobles
Piggyback jousting matches with pool noodles.
A host of fire breathers to entertain the court

Mad Max Meets Water World

Throw a post-apocalypse survivor’s party. That’s right, the world as you knew it has ended and now all you can do is treasure the last few hours left on your iPod. Time to memorize the lyrics to “Do the Hustle.”

Alternatively, you could use Earth Hour to test your emergency preparedness. As any aficionado of dystopian movies knows, in the future things will be very difficult, and personal hygiene will deteriorate sharply.

Why not use Earth Hour to get ready for it. Pretend the Internet is broken and Pizza Hut no longer delivers. Make hot chocolate from water in your toilet tank and see how long you can go without central heating.

For extra adventure, pretend it’s the zombie apocalypse and arm yourself with nurf guns to ward off the brain munchers.

Preparation:

Fortify your house by stapling cardboard over the windows.
Fill every inch of closet space with macaroni and peanut butter
Practice using a gas siphon and ham radio

Blackout Block Party

Earth Hour can be more than an hour, so take a step back from it all and reflect on the important things in life. It can be a perfectly good excuse to invite the neighbours or some friends over and party like it’s 2003.

Roll the BBQs into your driveway and party as though the Eastern Seaboard is in the midst of a massive blackout. For those who lived through it, the blackout was equal parts headache and entertainment, with people taking to the streets to enjoy a holiday and free ice cream that restaurants knew was going to melt anyway.

If you’re fortunate enough to know a few neighbours, throw an Earth Hour Block Party and bust out the Tiki Torches and BBQs. What better excuse to cook hotdogs and have a beer on the front lawn than to take a stand against climate change.

Preparation:

Get hot dogs, hamburgers and a solar powered jukebox
Headlamps for after-hours hide and seek