Did you switch off your lights for an hour at 8:30 p.m. on March 26? Then you are doing your bit to save our planet. Earth Hour is a brilliant way to save the planet one hour at a time by conserving valuable resources. It is one of the public awareness campaigns started by the World Wildlife Fund.

Global warming is one of the biggest worries for people residing on this planet. “An average American produces 20 tons of the major greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2), and the entire world emits 27 billion tons of CO2 each year through transportation, electricity use and deforestation,” writes Bryan Walsh in Time magazine. These numbers are shocking and definitely make us think about the future of our planet.

A journey of a thousand steps begins with one step. Turning off all unessential electronic gadgets and lights for an hour is the first step in helping save our planet. Switching off lights one hour every year is not going to save the environment, but Earth Hour is organized to show that one has to begin by taking smaller steps to achieve a bigger mission.

For those who are unaware of Earth Hour, it is a grassroots movement intended to take positive actions for the environment. It is observed on the last Saturday of March every year.

Earth Hour was started in 2007 in Sydney as a protest against global warming. Over two million people and more than 2,000 businesses switched off the lights to show that turning off electricity for 60 minutes can actually help us see the impact we have on the environment. One year later, 35 countries and more than 50 million people joined to show the world that 60-minutes of no electricity could make a difference. By 2011, there were 135 countries and hundreds of millions of people who participated. If turning off lights for an hour can help in reducing the energy consumption, then shouldn’t we go beyond the hour?

Earth Hour 2011 introduced another event “Beyond the Hour” to push people to take this beyond the 60 minutes to show commitment to help save our environment. We don’t have to wait every year for Earth Hour to think about energy expenditure. It’s time we take initiative and start by doing small things like switching off the lights when not in use, riding a bicycle to work or school one day a week, recycling and using energy-efficient light bulbs.

The concept of Earth Hour has motivated me to think about our planet. I use my bicycle when commuting to college, use rideshare to go to far-off destinations, check all the lights before leaving home and remove unused adaptors and chargers from the plug point when not in use. Small things do make a huge difference. If each individual puts in a little effort and thinks of each day as Earth Hour, then together we can save our planet from global warming and preserve valuable resources.

Every individual can make a difference, and now is the time to make that difference. Earth hour, Earth weekend and Earth year, we don’t have to stop there. We can continue to do our bit to keep the world safe for future generations.