Sunday, 30 March 2014

Earth Hour Lessons

We cheated and used battery powered
candles because we don't trust my four
year old around open flames. 
Earth Hour may not have a big impact world wide on reducing the amount of energy consumed, and many criticize it as a useless, largely symbolic act. I like to participate by turning off the lights and not using electrically powered devices and appliances for the hour between 8:30 and 9:30 for the conversations is starts with our children, and I like the personal challenge of finding something we can do that doesn't require electricity. It makes us more appreciative of our modern conveniences, helps us to see how reliant we are upon the electrical grid, and forces us to unplug, however briefly.

We brainstorm what we can do together to pass the time. Often times we play games together, but this year I was not up to it (sad event in the family this weekend). In the end we decided that we would just talk and tell stories together.

As always, challenges like this teach us something, and here is what I learned this year:

  • It is no surprise that we are very dependent upon our electronics for entertainment, especially in the evening. We had a debate about whether it was fair to listen to music or use our smart devices because they are not drawing power from the grid at that moment (even though they are charged from the electrical grid). In the end we opted to go electronic free to be in the spirit of the event. On an unrelated note, we have a solar device charger that we have taken camping with us (to ensure we have a charged camera) that works well, and I have often thought that in an emergency situation this is a good option.

  • I feel like we cheated because I looked around and saw all the appliances we still had plugged in, such as the refrigerator, furnace, hot water heater, television, computers, clock radios, lamps, etc. It is suggested that we unplug all appliances not in immediate use, and this is a goal for us. It is awkward, however, to have to find a lamp cord and plug it into the wall in the dark, and often times convenience win out. 

  • I am surprised how hard it was for us to tell entertaining, original stories to each other. Oral story telling is a dying art and I can vouch for this listening to my girls attempts to tell a story unrelated to a movie, video game or book that they have read. Inspiration comes from a variety of sources and there is nothing wrong with building on someone else's idea, but perhaps we should do more of this. Maybe I should be modeling some stories (which I actually find difficult myself) at bedtime like we used to do when they were little. 

  • It was reaffirmed for me, yet again, how tired I am of hearing about Minecraft because my daughters are a tad obsessed with the game. I am not carte blanche against video games for kids, and I would be a hypocrite to say my kids cannot have any screen time. Everything in moderation. But it feels like it is all they talk about. I want my girls to believe that I listen to them and want to hear what they have to share, even if it isn't interesting to me; listen to them now so that they'll talk to you when they're older kind of idea. But I'm sorry to say that sometimes it sounds like verbal diarrhea.

How did you participate during Earth Hour this year?

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