Earth hour celebrates sustainability


Their voices counted down “5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 ….” With each second the voices rose together until they filled the room completely and the lights went dark. The clock struck 8:30 p.m. and Earth Hour had begun.

During these 60 minutes on March 28 at Jack’s Place in The Union, the Ecology club and attendees of SDSU’s celebration of Earth Hour depended entirely on energy collected by solar generators from Peppermint Energy in Sioux Falls in order to celebrate green energy and sustainability.

Although Earth Hour started on campus a mere two years ago, the event has been celebrated across the globe since 2007, when it originated in Sydney, Australia. Since then, the event has expanded to over 7,000 cities in 172 countries. At each Earth Hour event lights are turned off from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time.

Other landmarks, cities and businesses around the United States participated in Earth Hour such as the Empire State Building in New York City, the John Hancock building in Chicago, hotels and casinos along the Las Vegas Strip, the Los Angeles Airport and the Space Needle in Seattle.

According to World Wide Fund for Nature, more commonly known as WWF, 68,064 people took part in the 2015 Earth Hour around the globe.

The purpose of Earth Hour is not only to celebrate sustainability, but also to raise awareness about sustainability and what people are able to do in their everyday lives to make an impact.

Palak Barmaiya, a freshman civil engineering major, came to the event because she is interested in sustainable engineering.

“We all know the earth’s climate is changing,” Barmaiya said. “We need to make changes and events like this are great in order to show our the earth—we are the future, so it comes to us.”

Jacob Dekraai, the event coordinator for the Ecology Club and an ecology and environmental science major with minors in botany and biology, believes the event is important for getting people involved and interested in what they can do to help.

“It’s like we always hear about climate change and about how we’re using up resources faster than we can generate them and we’re accumulating all this waste as a result,” Dekraai said, “and it’s hard as an individual to be presented with all that information and then say ‘I want to do something about it’ because it’s a lot to handle. So what Earth Hour does for … clubs, cities, communities … is drive toward the same goal of informing people about techniques to reduce their ecological footprint.”

Priamka Azad, a sophomore business economics major, enjoyed the event.

“I like the concept of environmental awareness and making people more aware of saving energy,” Azad said. “It’s fun because you get to meet new people, learn about the environment and saving energy. It was a different experience than most other events on campus.”

Students and community members who attended the event were able to play BINGO, have the chance to win raffle prizes and listen to a live band performance by Ted and Alice Miller. Prizes from BINGO and the raffle included solar chargers for cell phones, a sodastream, a solar generator and other prizes.

Dekraai said the prizes were for “getting people started on reducing the amount of waste they have in their day-to-day lives.”

Vendors were also present at the event including Good Roots Farm and Garden, Sioux River Bicycles, Dakota Rural Action, Brookings Sustainability Council and more. Each was present to inform students and community members on ways to reduce their ecological footprints.

“I know students are in their dorms right now, but soon they’ll be out in their own homes and apartments and will have these big utility bills and stuff like that,” Dekraai said, “and it’s just good for them to understand these methods of a less wasteful life before they get out into the real world. … I think it’s really important for students to attend something like this early on.”

Later in the semester, the Ecology club will host a Discover Scuba event. The event is similar to a scuba diving clinic, but attendees cannot get officially certified at the event.