Green Queen: Use Earth Hour to plan your sustainable future

On March 26, Earth Hour participants will turn off the lights for 60 minutes. Why not use the time to commit to one action, big or small, that will help sustain the planet?

One week from tonight, from 8.30pm to 9.30pm, gather your loved ones and turn off all the lights for one entire hour.

Then, by candlelight, have a quiet conversation about how each of you could change one aspect of your behaviour that would ease the burden on the planet's resources.

Know that you are joined by millions of others around the world who are also observing the fifth annual Earth Hour. The anti-climate-change event, which started in Sydney in 2007, had by last year involved 126 countries. This year, however, organisers are asking that participants take things up a notch along the theme of "Beyond the Hour".

Organisers, who in the UAE include the Emirates Wildlife Society in association with the World Wildlife Fund (EWS-WWF), are asking participants to commit to one action, big or small, that can help sustain the planet. Ida Tillisch, EWS-WWF's acting director general, suggests pledging to turn down the air conditioner a few degrees, making sure a bucket instead of a hose is used to wash the car and switching to energy-efficient light bulbs.

Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi, known locally as the Green Sheikh, has already made his "Beyond the Hour Pledge", to "open my windows in cool weather". You can visit the EWF-WWF site to upload your own ideas and get some inspiration from the other ones that are already there. They include:

I only wash when I have a full load.

I installed motion sensing lights.

I use scrap paper.

It's not just homeowners and tenants who can pledge to do better. An eco-minded landlord might post notices encouraging his or her tenants to get involved in Earth Hour and signal plans to turn out all the lights in the building for an hour, maybe even working with his counterparts in the neighbourhood to try and involve the entire block.

The landlord might also look into how to use less electricity in his building's common areas or facilitate a building-wide recycling programme.

The Fairmont Bab al Bahr plans not only to dim its lights but also rely on a series of volunteers riding stationary bikes to produce 24 hours of pedal power. The hotel is one of 87 entities that signed up to support Earth Hour in the UAE by last week, including the Abu Dhabi Corniche, Etihad Airways and Maqta Bridge. That is more than double the number that were involved in last year's Earth Hour, including the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

For more information about this year's events and how to participate, visit