Published 27th March 2019
On 30th March, from 8.30 to 9.30 pm local time, people around the world will be celebrating Earth Hour. What started out as a lights out event in Sydney in 2007 has become the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment. Every year, millions of people around the world celebrate Earth Hour by switching off their lights, to connect to the Earth and take a stand against the daily destruction we inflict on our environment.
What can we do for Earth Hour in the classroom?
The obvious thing we, as teachers of English as a Foreign Language, can do is to celebrate Earth Hour in our classrooms. Take this opportunity to dedicate a lesson to raising awareness of nature around us, how we are damaging our natural environment and what we can do to try to alleviate this devastation. There are loads of resources available on the Earth Hour website.
What can we do for Earth Hour outside the classroom?
But that’s not all we can do. As TEFL teachers we travel a lot. The very nature of the job – working abroad – means that you’ll be travelling to get to your job. Then, because travelling is a big appeal of teaching English as a Foreign Language, we usually find ourselves travelling on weekends or holidays. Because of this, we need to make sure we are engaging in sustainable travelling practices.
What is sustainable travel?
Sustainable travel, or sustainable tourism or eco-tourism, is about minimising the effect your travelling is making on the environment. While this most definitely includes the actual journey that you make to get to your destination, it also concerns how you interact with the natural environment and the local economic environment while you are there.
It might sound like an impossible task but we’re not saying that you need to walk everywhere and sleep in a tent. Sustainable travel is all about making smart choices to mitigate the effects of these choices. It’s actually easier than you think.
- Try not to fly. We can’t control the CO2 emissions of aeroplanes but we can control how often we use planes. If you can take a bus or a train, rather do that.
- If you are flying somewhere, stay there for a while. Don’t fly to Paris for a weekend.
- Use public transport at your destination.
- Stay in environmentally-friendly accommodation. Green hotels should have a seal of approval from a certification program.
- Don’t let the hotel wash your towels every day. Hang them up to show that you are happy to use them again before they need to be washed.
- Turn off the air conditioning and lights when you leave your room.
- Don’t buy a bottle of water every time you need a drink. Use a refillable water bottle.
- Wherever you go, be sure to throw your rubbish away responsibly or take it home with you. Find recycling resources that you can use.
- Support local businesses and artisans by buying from local merchants rather than imported goods.
This all sounds like a lot, but we’re not saying that you need to give up travelling. Travelling broadens horizons, increases cultural sensitivity, and fosters empathy and understanding. Our world would be a better place if more people travelled and experienced other social and cultural environments. But when you travel, make sure you do everything you can to be as earth-friendly as possible. The future generations thank you.