Challenge 3 – Switch Off

Challenge 3 – Switch Off

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Hello again, Green Beings! It’s March already – it’s officially spring, in fact –  and, with that in mind, it’s time to march into our next lot of green-themed challenges. Or stride. Or meander about mindfully, stopping to smell the roses and bask in the sunbeams. And then, when the sun sets, we’ll pick those rosebush thorns and tear our way into a newer, greener world.

Green light says: go!

We live in a world that is so on all the time. Screens light up city centres. Shops are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can get whatever you need, whenever you need it, delivered express and straight to your door. At every hour of the day or night, somebody is awake, rushing, frantic, stressed.

We exist in an age where nothing is switched off – not even ourselves. We live at maximum capacity and, occasionally and at best, we slip into standby. But we’re never off. We’re always alert, forever aware, attuned to every advert, every train, ever trend, every pain. We wouldn’t know how to rest if we were dead – let alone in peace.

This planet is less “peaceful” and just full of pieces, a blizzard of endless to-do list items and unread emails and dishes stacked in the sink and queues and buses and technical issues and fraying jumpers and and and and and…

BUT. What if we just switched off for a little while? No more full power, no more stuck on standby, but for once and for a while, we pull the plug, reset, rest. That’s how we protect our own energy – and that’s how we can go green and protect some of the Earth’s, too.

That’s why this month’s challenges are all about switching off. In small ways, in significant ways, in simple ways. Take a look.

  1. Switch the lights off!

Your mom has nagged you about it almost your entire upbringing – and now we’re bringing it up, too. It’s as easy as flicking a switch and it’s as impactful as reducing carbon dioxide emissions, so why do we forget sometimes? Because the world we live in is wired to the walls and long gone is the age of sleeping at sunset, rising with the sun. We’re lucky enough to be able to see deep into the night and sure, it’s great for extending activities and perusing the fridge for a midnight snack – but it’s not so great for the planet.

Why? Because we’re burning energy carelessly.

Every source of light has a source of energy. Drawn typically from non-renewable resources such as natural gases and coal burning, oil and nuclear power. This type of energy comes at a monetary price – which we pay monthly for – and an environmental price. Non-renewable resources release harmful gases into the atmosphere, thus creating the greenhouse effect, thus causing global warming. The cost to the welfare of the environment is debilitating.

Now, we can’t all afford to switch to installing solar panels on the roof right away – but what we can do, all of us, for free and for good: is switch off the lights when they’re not in use, when we’re not in the room, when we don’t need them. Here’s some ideas *an energy-saving light bulb lights up above our heads* on how to do so:

  • Wait until it’s dark out before you start switching on the lights
  • Instead of using the Big Light, swap out for one or two smaller wattage lamps
  • Count the number of lights in your house – so you can be mindful of how many are on at anyone time
  • Leave sticky notes beside the switches as a reminder and a prompt, just while you build the habit

You see, the less energy we use, the less damage we cause. And not to be dramatic, but: migrating birds can get killed due to light pollution.

So switch off the lights. Save the Swallows.

  1. Close your shopping tabs

It’s easier than ever, isn’t it? Window shopping? No longer reserved for storefronts and shop displays, passed by those who have ventured out of their houses with a little list of purchases to make. Nowadays, we can shop through the windows of our phone screens, laptops, PCs. We don’t even have to set about with the intention of buying stuff – it’s all just right there, waiting, luring, baiting.

We shop mindlessly, ruthlessly, harmlessly – right?


Consumerism, Capitalism, Commercialism – no, they’re not the names of an obnoxiously overpriced perfume – are creating a chasm between what’s right and what’s commonly done. The more we consume, the more we buy, the more we’re depleting the natural resources of the Earth – leaving a trail of pollution in our wake. Extracting the resources needed to make our purses and playsuits and Pumas can destroy habitats, disrupt ecosystems and reshape our natural world until the amazon just becomes… Amazon.

Overconsumption creates waste, filling up landfills and contributing to the emission of greenhouse gases. Sure, those leather boots might look cool – but do you really want them to leave behind such a damaging carbon bootprint?

If everyone lived like western consumers we would need five planets to support us.” It’s just not sustainable. But better buying habits are attainable. Close your shopping tabs and switch fast fashion to slow and mindful choices. You can swap your shop with these instead:

  • Go through your old things and make a LOVE pile to keep and a FOR SOMEBODY ELSE TO LOVE pile to donate
  • If you do need to buy something – research sustainable brands, buy secondhand or even rent your clothes!
  • Upcycle, revamp, spruce up your old stuff. Sew on a patch. Tear off the sleeves. Turn it inside out. If ripped jeans can be classed as fashion, then those moth-eaten jumpers will have their day, yet.
  • Donate what you would have spent on clothing to a charity of your choice – because feeling good feels better than looking good
  1. Turn off your computer (after you’ve read this)

To some, this might feel like switching off the life support machine for a loved one – *side eyes my obsessive PC gamer boyfriend* – but think of it from your laptop’s perspective. Imagine never being able to sleep, to unplug, to unwind. Your fans whirring a mile a minute, your buttons endlessly pressed, your internal processor speed ridiculed and your display consistently ogled – yeah. Give the poor thing a rest.

And in doing so, you can save up to 20% of your daily electric consumption.

Globally, electronics that are left in standby contribute to 1% of CO2 emissions. Sure, that doesn’t sound like loads, but think about it. These devices are literally not in use, and still power is being syphoned away redundantly, further hurting the environment for literally no reason at all. Switching off your laptop or computer at the wall when you’ve finished with it can reduce the machine’s carbon footprint by 83%.

Start – Power – Shut Down.

That’s all it takes. Three little steps, three little clicks in exchange for 83% less harm done to our beautifully rendered, real world.

That little red light when it’s left on standby? Make it green: switch it off.

  1. Switch off your engine – opt for a bike or a hike

How lucky are we that we live in a world where it takes only half a day to venture half a world away, where we can access here, there and everywhere from the cosy confines of our own little mobile kingdoms, equipped with an Anastasia album on repeat and an empty milk carton on the backseat in case nature calls but we’re driving, and we can’t answer? A little four-wheeled world full of possibility and potential – when we’re not stuck in traffic jams, choking on car exhaust fumes and our own unbridled road rage simultaneously, that is.

Transport is great, until it ain’t. It accounts for around 30% of all carbon emissions, globally, with driving responsible for about 72% of that, polluting the air and depleting resources dramatically. It’s got a big, bad impact – that we can begin to resolve with small, significant changes.

We’re not saying sell your car. We’re not encouraging you to wrangle your local wild pony or resort to rubbing pumpkins with fairytales as your fuel. We’re just asking you to consider trying this one little thing:

If we replace driving for walking or cycling even for just one day a week, it will have a significant impact on personal carbon emissions in cities, reducing them by as much as 25%.

So, stretch your legs for a day. Grease up your chains. Hop, skip and jump to the dentist. Whip out that rusty scooter you had when you were 8. Skateboard, rollerblade, hell, find yourself some stilts and stick your head in the clouds, breathing in fresher, cleaner air now that you’re not driving everywhere.

Maybe we could replace all this self-induced smog with our green-tinted glasses and watch as the world no longer blurs by at speeds of 60mph, but instead meanders past at a pace of 15mph – you know, the average speed of an everyday cyclist.

Try it out. Just once a week, or less if you’re starting off slow. But in any case, (don’t) rev your engines: and give it a go.

  1. Earth Hour

This one is a little different to our other challenges. Rather than a daily or weekly activity to participate in this month, this is a date to mark in the calendar for March.

Earth Hour. On Saturday 23rd March 2024, between 8:30pm and 9:30pm local time, the UK is switching off.

Homes up and down the country are powering down in honour of our planet, and its future. A symbol of hope and potential, a promise to try harder and do better, one switch at a time. This is a global environmental movement, organised by WWF and partners worldwide, and led by the community that created Earth Hour when it began as a grassroots movement in Sydney, back in 2007.

It’s a spectacular show of united strength, with millions upon millions of people, places, businesses, landmarks all taking part in Earth Hour events to showcase their belief in a brighter future, by darkening the skies in the present.

On March 23rd at 8:30pm, maybe we could do the same?

So switch off the lights, grab some candles and spend your hour doing something good, something you love, something that lights you up inside so blindingly we will never need to switch the lamps on again.

The Earth Hour switch off is a switch off, for the Earth, for an hour – for the better. Are we in it together?

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