Millions of people in cities across the world will turn off lights in their homes and businesses for one hour Saturday night to observe Earth Hour.
Earth Hour is an international movement started in 2007 by the World Wildlife Fund to bring attention to environmental issues such as climate change. The movement encourages people to turn off all nonessential lights from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. in their respective time zones.
IU and Monroe County will honor Earth Hour Saturday through several events held on campus and around Bloomington. All events throughout the day are free and open to the public.
As lights across the globe go dark, IU students will walk through campus in the dusky moonlight learning about the university’s effects on the environment.
Junior Katie Bryant said she grew up environmentally conscious. But coordinating the "night hike" as part of an event management class has given her more insight into how IU’s actions affect the environment.
“I think it’s important for students to get involved in it to realize the damage we can cause, but also how we can reverse it to help better the planet and make sure we’re preserving nature the way it is,” she said.
Those participating in the "night hike" will meet at 8:15 p.m. on the front steps of Herman B Wells Library. They’ll walk down Jordan Avenue and end at Cedar Hall to talk about the power plant that controls the building.
Diane Henshel, a professor in the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, will lead the route and talk about how IU is both helping and harming the environment, as well as ways it can change to better itself.
Earlier the same day from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District will lead a free workshop at the district office. It focuses on how people in businesses and households can be more environmentally conscious, said Elisa Pokral, the district’s community outreach coordinator. It will cover topics such as composting, recycling and going green as a business, and the public is welcome to attend all or only part of the workshop.
“Everyone needs to make healthy environmental choices to reduce climate change, to make the world a better place,” Pokral said.
Following the workshop, a National Geographic documentary called “Paris to Pittsburgh” will be shown at South Walnut Recycling Center. Later in the evening at 6 p.m., the same documentary will be shown on campus in Hodge Hall.
Pokral said she wanted the IU community to have an opportunity to see the documentary, so she and sophomore Steven Rigg, founder of IU's Students for a New Green World, organized the campus viewing. Rigg first became interested in environmental activism after attending a panel of IU professors talking about climate change in the business world.
He said he had to do something, anything.
“Change doesn’t start with people in power,” he said. “It starts at the bottom.”
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