Earth Hour 2008

Sydney Opera House

Almost one year ago, the city of Syd­ney, Aus­tralia, did some­thing unprece­dent­ed: thou­sands of busi­ness­es and indi­vid­u­als flipped the off switch — lights, tele­vi­sions, and more were switched off for six­ty minutes.

And for one hour, Syd­ney’s pow­er con­sump­tion was cut by just over 10%, the equiv­a­lent of tak­ing 48,000 cars off of the road for one hour.

This year, Earth Hour is going glob­al, with cor­po­ra­tions and indi­vid­u­als from all around the world join­ing in.

The goal of this, of course, is to cause a dra­mat­ic decrease in the amount of ener­gy expend­ed and in the amount of pol­lu­tants released. That in itself is great, but if you don’t buy into envi­ron­men­tal­ism, there are oth­er rea­sons to flip the off switch­es in your home.

Instead of watch­ing tele­vi­sion, break out the board games and bring your fam­i­ly togeth­er for a game of Sor­ry! or Clue. Instead of surf­ing the Inter­net, read a nov­el by can­dle­light, per­haps redis­cov­er­ing an old favorite.

By par­tic­i­pat­ing, you will be doing A Good Thing; I promise you that.

All of that said, the rea­son why I’m writ­ing here isn’t so much to encour­age you to par­tic­i­pate — although, that would be great! No, instead I want to encour­age you to encour­age Wal-Mart to participate!

Over the past year espe­cial­ly, Wal-Mart has been mak­ing much of its envi­ron­men­tal poli­cies, with goals as lofty as pro­duc­ing zero waste.

Is Wal-Mart doing every­thing it can? I won’t pass that judg­ment here, but I will say that Earth Hour would give Wal-Mart the chance to put its envi­ron­men­tal ethics where its wal­let is. Can this retail goliath shut down for one hour? With well over 3,000 stores in the Unit­ed States alone, Wal-Mart would be able to set a nation­al exam­ple which would be extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to ignore.

In the hour they’re shut down (or at the very least run­ning on half [night­time] light­ing on a lim­it­ed num­ber of reg­is­ters, but that would­n’t be near­ly as impres­sive)? It would pro­vide the per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty to edu­cate those who show up — shar­ing with them envi­ron­men­tal facts as well as sim­ple ways that they too can make a pos­i­tive impact on the environment.

So if you would, let Wal-Mart know what you think about this! Here’s an exam­ple of what you could write to them:

I know that the com­pa­ny wants to “lead the way,” so to speak, con­cern­ing our envi­ron­ment going into the future, set­ting the stan­dard for oth­er com­pa­nies to follow.

In light of that, I am encour­ag­ing Wal-Mart Stores to endorse and par­tic­i­pate in Earth Hour 2008 (earthhour.org).

In the evening of March 29, 2008, the Earth Hour ini­tia­tive is call­ing on busi­ness­es, indi­vid­u­als, orga­ni­za­tions, and schools to turn it off.

Every­thing pos­si­ble — turned off for one hour.

If Wal-Mart were to do this at all of its stores, the impact would be huge. If oth­er com­pa­nies fol­lowed suit, the effect mul­ti­plies quickly!

This is a per­fect oppor­tu­ni­ty for Wal-Mart to show that it is will­ing to do what it can to encour­age envi­ron­men­tal aware­ness and stewardship.

Thank you for your time.

Chief Exec­u­tive Lee Scott of Wal-Mart has said, “As one of the largest com­pa­nies in the world, with an expand­ing glob­al pres­ence, envi­ron­men­tal prob­lems are our problems.”

By par­tic­i­pat­ing in Earth Hour, Wal-Mart will be able to make a huge impact while set­ting a glob­al exam­ple for oth­ers to follow.

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Rick Beckman