Thursday, March 22, 2012

Earth Hour: mindfulness and a Super Drive

The past winter that wasn’t (subject of an upcoming column) couldn’t be a more clear and blatant signal from Mother Nature that we must find a more sustainable lifestyle as quickly as possible. This means scaling back, rather than expanding our use of tar sands oil (see my March 8th column), and using renewable energy instead of more nuclear power (another upcoming topic). Overall, it means learning to prosper while consuming less energy and materials. Luckily, energy efficiency is cheaper than energy expansion, and conservation is free. We don’t lack the technology, just sometimes the will.
Earth Hour addresses that. Switching off for an hour on a Saturday night won’t generate significant electricity savings, especially since it’s during a low-demand time already, when we have (due to nuclear plants) more electricity than we need. But the true purpose is to flip a switch in our minds, so I hope you’ll be taking part.
For the third year, the Barrie Green Party will do our part by hosting our Earth Hour Super-Drive. This is your chance to clear out the old electrical or electronic devices you don’t need anymore, or that have broken down. We’ll be filling a GreenGo Recycling truck with anything that used a plug, battery, or chip. Old cell phones are a special item of interest; please gather and bring them to us.
And while we’re being mindful of the planet, we can also be mindful of the needs of the less fortunate in our community. The Barrie Free Clothing Centre is undergoing renovations for a grand re-launch, so it’s a great time for you to clean out a closet and donate wearable used clothing. Food is another basic need that sometimes can’t be met on a limited budget, so we’re also taking donations to the Elizabeth Fry Grocery Assistance Program. Some cans or boxes of food can light up a hungry family in a way no light bulb can.
And this year we’re doing a special celebration of Earth Hour with a candlelight reception for Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner. Despite switching off the power, the house will be filled with electricity as we share drinks, food and conversation.
The Earth Hour Super-drive takes place on Saturday, March 31st between 1:30 and 4:30 PM in the parking lot behind 110 Dunlop St W, off Toronto Street. If you have items you can’t easily transport, email beforehand and we’ll arrange to send our truck to you. For tickets to the Earth Hour reception that evening, visit or call 705-730-7591. And wherever you are, take some time next Saturday evening to switch off the ever-present electronic hum and appreciate some natural peace.

Written for my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner under the title "Earth Hour Super-Drive offers opportunities"
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of the Ontario School of Economic Science and Earthsharing Canada.

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