By Nikol Stoykova
Every year on the last Saturday of March, the world’s biggest landmarks go dark for an hour, and cities all around the globe switch off their brightest lights as part of their commitment to Earth Hour Day. Earth Hour is a global event organized by the World Wildlife Fund, and it started out more ten years ago as a merely symbolic act just to become one of the biggest environmental movements nowadays. As London’s most recognized landmarks—Buckingham palace, Harrods, Piccadilly circus, and Westminster go dark, this is not a challenge to save the most amount of energy in an hour, but an opportunity to look at the city’s charm in a different light and take the time to think not about what humanity needs to do to protect its home, but what little things we do can make a difference—not only for an hour or a day, but for the next 364 days.
50% of the energy we use we don’t actually need. This is not only harmful to the environment, but also very expensive: UK households waste nearly £1 billion pounds yearly only by leaving unneeded appliances on. Here are some ideas on how to start small on saving up some electricity.
1. Don’t leave your heater on full blast when you’re out or during the night. The small rooms heat up quickly, and leaving the radiator working when you’re not cold is only a waste of energy.
2. Don’t leave anything plugged in if you’re not using it. This is something I’m especially guilty of. I charge my phone and forget to unplug the charger, leaving it plugged in for days on. Everything that is not use is better off left unplugged.
3. Speaking of your phone, unplug it when it gets fully charged. 5% of the charger’s power is actually used for charging purposes; the rest is wasted when left plugged in.
4. Use your desk lamp. When working, turn off the ceiling light to save energy, and of course, don’t leave your lights on when you don’t need them or during the day—open your curtains and enjoy the daylight!
Although Earth hour focuses on energy-saving, we all know that water is a crucial way of helping the environment. You’ve heard the news: an average human wastes more than 80 gallons of water a day. This is about 300 kilos a day, gone down the drain. You have probably already heard the standard lecture on the conventional ways to save water (minimum shower time, don’t brush your teeth with the water running), but we might have some new ideas for you to try out.
1. 70% of all freshwater goes for the production and preparation of our food. Cooking in larger quantities (or eating the food in the dining hall) can help reduce this number a bit. Opting for the vegetarian option at dinner could shrink your water use with 36%.
2. We know about turning off the tap, but what about tightening the faucet handle? Not doing it can lead to leaks we might not even notice, and fastening them tightly can save 60 litres of clean water.
3. Boil as much water as you need. Save water and energy by not filling the kettle the whole way and then throwing away what you didn’t use, but boil as many cups as you’re actually going to drink.
4. Your tea got cold? If you’re not going to drink it, don’t throw it down the drain. Water your plants with the remaining water in your cup rather than throwing it away. Also: don’t wash your cups every single time you drink water. After all, what’s the need for washing water with water?
5. Save water and money by saving up your dirty clothes. Don’t have enough whites for a whole load, but you want to wash your favourite white sweater? Share!
And on that note, we’ll remind you that International Hall won the Reduce the Juice initiative for saving energy, and is competing against the other UoL halls for first place in the water saving sprint! In the meanwhile, tighten your taps, turn off the lights and go out to enjoy a different kind of London this Saturday!