11325_EH_1_Ad_Update_PRINT2_OL.inddIt may not feel like spring has sprung, what with the forecast of scattered flurries and nippy temperatures, but as of Wednesday, March 20th, spring 2013 has officially entered the building. Something about birds chirping and buds poking through mud (or snow) makes us all a little more appreciative of the planet. Enter stage left, a slew of festivities to celebrate, appreciate and elevate our global home. Why? So we  get gentle reminder to respect and protect.

First up, Earth Hour. This one is easy. If you have a finger, you can do it (no, not that one). This is celebrated around the globe on March 23, 8:30 – 9:30 PM. Earth Hour asks individuals, businesses and governments everywhere to turn off their lights for one hour to support urgent action on climate change. To participate, just go to the Canadian Earth Hour site, or the Global one so you can stand up and be counted.

This year, they’ve kicked it up a notch with a Care, Dare and Share theme, and an “I will if you will” challenge. The idea is that we Care about the planet, we then Dare others to do something about it with the brilliant and sometimes hilarious “I will if you will” challenges, then we Share these challenges (yay social media) so others do it too. If  the Harlem Shake can go viral, how about these, pretty please? Andy Ridley pledged to get in a tank with a great white shark if 10,000 people submit an I will if you will challenge (he reached his goal…have a nice swim!). Betina Gozo pledged to eat 3 lbs of gummy worms if 10,000 people sign up for Earth Hour. And the European Commissioner for the Environment will sing a song on stage if 1,000 people stop using their cars for a week.

I don’t know about singing on stage (and a huge sigh of relief from those who’ve survived my attempts at karaoke), but I’m happy to say that every single site at UHN is participating in Earth Hour in some way. Now, since these are hospitals with patients and visitors, we have to power down safely. No surgery by candlelight, or bicycle-powered MRI scans (though that’s an interesting idea), but we will dim the lights in many main areas, and ask staff to take extra care to shut off any lights, computers, printers that aren’t needed over the weekend. Most importantly, we’re hoping staff do that every day, not just for the hour. As usual, TGH, TWH, PMH, are participating, and this year we give a warm welcome to TRI, who are enthusiastically taking up the Earth Hour challenge.

Now that we have the business-end covered, it’s time to make it personal. And when I think of personal, I don’t just mean be green at home. I mean walk the talk all the time…at work, at home, at your Aunt Mabel’s, everywhere. Most people spend a third of their waking hours on the job, and the planet doesn’t know the difference between the energy I use (or waste) at work v.s. home, nor the recycling and composting I do (or don’t do) in my kitchen v.s. the staff lounge. I may notice the difference more at home because I see my hydro bills (yikes!) and take out my own trash and blue bins, but the stuff at work is just as real, even if someone else takes care of it.

So what can you do? Sign up, flick a switch, and pledge to do something better for the hour, all year, everywhere.

“See you” in the dark on March 23rd!


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