Did you know that this coming Saturday, March 29, 2008, from 8:00-9:00 p.m. (note: time has changed from 7 to 8 p.m.), a very special global event called "Earth Hour" will be taking place? Did you know that the city of Des Plaines has chosen to take an active role in this event, along with Chicago, one of the featured major cities, and many of our neighboring suburbs?
What is Earth Hour? For one hour on a given night, participating businesses, homes and public spaces turn off all non-essential lighting. The first Earth Hour was held in Sydney, Australia in 2007. "Over 2.2 million Sydney residents and over 2,100 businesses switched off, leading to a 10.2% energy reduction across the city." Even one hour of reducing energy usage can make a tremendous impact, as coal-fired electricity is one of the worst contributors to global climate change. But beyond the impact of saving energy for a 60 minute time span, the organizers of Earth Hour want the event to raise awareness of environmental issues and how much our day-to-day activities - things we take for granted - drain the world of precious natural resources.
The Des Plaines Public Library will be participating in Earth Hour by making sure as many lights as possible are turned off this Saturday night, March 29. Honestly, and if I may boast a little bit about my coworkers, we are doing a lot more than that to protect the environment and inform people about making sound eco-choices.
Very soon, thanks to our generous Friends of the Library and persistent efforts by staff and our library users, we will be offering inexpensive, resuable, recyclable bags for sale, to help stop the tidal wave of plastic bags that is choking the Earth with trash. We hope you've already noticed and maybe even used the container in our atrium where you can place plastic bags for recycling. Yes, they really are recycled - we take them to the Jewel food store at 1555 S. Lee Street in Des Plaines. Jewel processes them through their Melrose Park facility and sends them on to a company called Trex, which makes composite lumber from the old bags. We want to thank Albertson's/Jewel/Supervalu, and specifically, Environmental Stewardship employee Tom McIntyre, for assisting us with bag recycling. We also thank our Security monitors, who do the work of sorting the bags - plastic library bags that are still in good condition are reused, rather than recycled.
We have lots of special programs coming up in April to honor Earth Day - click on this link to find them on our April Events calendar. During the month of April, the library also has a special "It's Easy Bein' Green" online video to share with you and we'll roll out a new section of green resources on our Web site.
But don't forget - you can participate in Earth Hour this Saturday, too. Turn off the lights at home - some folks are going even farther and turning off the TV, DVD player, computer and other non-essential appliances. Light some candles and play a board game with your family. Go for a walk outside with your sweetie. Meditate, pray, have a candlelit meal. To learn about how big corporations, families and individuals are planning to make a statement during Earth Hour, check out this article from the Daily Herald. Des Plaines city officials are encouraging residents to take part in Earth Hour, and lights in municipal buildings will be turned off this Saturday from 8:00-9:00 p.m.
So mark your calendar for Earth Hour this Saturday and do your part in making sure that the splendors of our natural world and its abundant resources thrive and survive for future generations.