When Earth Hour—a yearly event on March 26 that asks participants to turn the lights off for an hour—began in 2007, its founders at the Australian branch of the World Wildlife Fund never imagined that it would run in 128 countries and gather millions of participants. But that's exactly what happened, and now the Earth Hour team is gearing up to extend the event even further.
"We're venturing to the next stage of Earth Hour," says Earth Hour founder Andy Ridley. "We hope that in 2011 the idea that you can go beyond the hour becomes part of Earth Hour itself."
To that end, the Earth Hour organizers set up a new platform, dubbed Beyond the Hour, that allows participants to share the sustainable actions they plan to take in their daily lives. Participants, which range from individuals to corporations, can then send out their actions to friends via Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other social networking sites. So far, actions range from promises to take shorter showers to going "beyond the hour by walking to work at least three days out of every five."
Caputuring and broadcasting individual actions is just the beginning. Over the next three years, Earth Hour plans to expand the Beyond the Hour platform so that by 2012, participants will be able to connect to others who share similar goals.
But make no mistake—"We're not trying to be Facebook for the environment," says Ridley." The challenge is, how do you get even further out of the way of people and allow them to connect with each other to share resources and share solutions?"