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Earth Hour Launches “I Will If You Will” Campaign

2013 April 5
by Shared by Steve Rust

Earth Hour is a once a year global event held about a month before Earth Dy that encourages people to turn off all their lights and electrical devices for one hour and do something positive for the global environment, such as planting a tree, volunteering at a local recycling center, or switching to LED lights. To get the word out, the organizers have staged party-like campaign events at famous international landmarks and attempted to spread viral videos.

Earth Hour 2013 was recently held on March 29, and organizers are already getting a head start on next year’s events by launching the “I Will If You Will” campaign.  The idea is simple: get celebrities and prominent local citizens to participate in quirky or fun activities if 100, 1000, or 10000 people will commit to planting a tree, unplugging electronic devices when not in use, or some other kind of small (but hopefully meaningful) action on behalf of sustainability.  Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes, for example, has agreed to be made-up into creature from NBC show Grimm and actor Jessica Alba and the co-founders of The Honest Company have agreed to let their children dress all of their employees for a day if 10000 people switch to ‘non-toxic eco-friendly products’. It should be no surprise that The Honest Company – “Your trusted source for stylish, eco-friendly, natural diapers, organic wipes, organic bath & body care, and non-toxic cleaning products” – is getting something out of this as well.

From my perspective such efforts can potentially consume more energy than they can save at the individual level, for example consider the server storage, electricity, and petroleum used to produce and store the before-and-after videos for Hayes make-up transformations (which is also a convenient promotional tool for Oregon film production).  Given the financial and personal self-interest involved in the efforts of people like Hays and Alba in contributing to the Earth Hour challenge, it is hard not to by entirely cynical about such campaigns. However, by playing a small part in the effort to generate a global paradigm shift in people’s and society’s attitudes toward our environment it is worth asking whether small trade-offs can be part of larger gains, such as increasing LEED-certified building construction, switching from fossil fuels to wind, solar, and other power sources, and building coalitions in support of binding international agreements and federal, state, and local legislative action? I for one think that if handled properly and sincerely such actions can be part of a broader shift. But I am not entirely convinced that the Earth Hour: I Will If You Will Campaign fits this description. I am open to hearing others’ opinions on this and similar topics as well.


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