Voluntary Conservation: Why Turning Your Lights Off For an Hour Once a Year Just Isn’t Enough

Photo by Louis Abate | flickr.com

Call me a tree-hugger, or even a geek, but Earth Day and Earth Hour fit into the same category as my birthday and the last day of school – I look forward to them every year.  And for justifiable reasons too – it’s always amazing to know that around the world, for a day (or an hour), people are putting the environment at or near the top of their priority list.  It’s a movement that has created a lot of impact on government decision, relevant policies, and individual perspectives.  But are these short bursts of environmental concern enough to make the big changes needed to help our planet?  Not really.

Although it’s a great start, we are only getting started conserving energy and natural resources to a level that can be deemed ‘successful’ in terms of environmental protection and restoration.  I know a lot of people, particularly young twenty-somethings, who claim that conservation is vital for a future suitable for our children and grandchildren.  Many of these, including myself, I would consider environmental activists. 

A recent article regarding voluntary conservation made a point that first insulted me, but then made me really think about current contributions to conservation.  The author claimed that younger generations tend to want to make environmental change without actually physically doing anything.  In other words, young activists try to show their contribution to voluntary conservation behind a computer screen – or rather give the impression that they are contributing – as opposed to putting effort into actual conservation practices. 

Although initially insulted, I realized this claim might not be too far from the truth.  Voluntary conservation has to go way above just talking about it online.  (Don’t worry, your Starfish bloggers make that happen!). We have to make those big steps towards worldwide conservation, first individually, then at larger scales. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s helpful (and necessary!) to turn off your lights, ride a bike instead of driving a car, and buy energy efficient appliances, but with how quickly we are depleting our planet’s resources, voluntary conservation has to continuously expand beyond the individual level. 

So, next time you participate in Earth Day or Earth Hour, think about what else you can do to contribute to conservation for more than just a few days a year – make voluntary conservation a part of your lifestyle.