Lights Out

Green, green, green. It’s the new black. It’s everywhere we turn. From LEED certified buildings to electric vehicles, efforts to be more environmentally friendly and energy efficient seem to be sprouting up everywhere. “Going green” has become so popular that it’s now trendy. Celebrities cruise around in their hybrid vehicles, supermarket shoppers carry around their reusable bags, even my very own Duke Blue Devils were adorned in Nike’s new sustainable jerseys this past Saturday.

Reading Tracey Shipman’s article “Who’s Leading on LEED?” got me thinking.  She discusses LEED certified buildings with all this new, green technology. However, many of the buildings’ designers are forgetting simple elements (such as easily accessible stairs) that would do as much, if not more, for the environment than many of the “sexy” green elements. I started thinking about how this idea could be applied to humans rather than buildings.

New technology makes it easier than ever for someone to effortlessly “go green.” Purchase a hybrid vehicle or better yet an electric vehicle, switch out your old refrigerator for a new ENERGY STAR qualified one, change out your incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).  Speaking of light bulbs, why not just shut them off?

As a society, we have become entrenched in finding the newest technological advancements to help our goal of environmental friendliness. I think that our desire to improve our technology is wonderful. Bettering our creations in order to help our environment is fantastic, and will hopefully continue for many years to come. However, I fear that we often forget to make simple behavioral adjustments that could also go a long way for our environment. In particular, turning off the lights once we leave a room.

I must admit that I often run out of a room without thinking to switch the lights off. I usually have a hundred things on my mind and don’t think to turn off the lights. This is very common for most people. I’m sure if you were to walk around your house right now you would find at least one light on that does not need to be. The potential for energy savings, if people remembered to shut off their lights, is huge.

An example of the potential energy savings that can result from the reduction of light bulb usage is Earth Hour. Earth Hour takes place once a year for only one hour. During this hour the WWF asks that all people across the globe shut off all non-essential lights in order to raise awareness for taking action against climate change. Last year, Earth Hour saved 34.92 megawatts of electricity worldwide. 90,000,000 Americans participated in Earth Hour. Now while Earth Hour is an extreme example of saving energy via lights, it does clearly show that shutting off lights is an effective and easy way to save energy.

I’m sure, that if most of you are like me, you turn on your lights long before they need to be on. I propose to you a challenge. Look to see at what time you usually start turning on most of the lights in your house. Now, try to keep the lights off for an extra hour. This is an easy way to join the green movement without emptying your wallet for a new piece of technology. In fact, you’ll save money.

I believe that as a whole, our society uses much more energy than we need to in order to power our lights. This problem has an incredibly easy fix. The solution requires no money and no research. All that is required is for people to make a slight change to their everyday behavior and remember to turn off all unnecessary lights. I don’t think that the issue is the lack of education on the issue. Most people realize that turning off lights will save energy. The issue, in my opinion, is reminding people to do so.

Therefore, I think public service announcements should be created in order to remind people of the benefits to them, as well as society as a whole, from turning off unnecessary lights. What better time to remind someone to shut off the lights than when they are sitting down to watch television? They are most likely already in their home and can easily take one minute to flip the switch. Besides, who doesn’t like enjoying their favorite movies in the dark?

Businesses love to show their customers that they are environmentally friendly. An easy way for television companies to do so is to place a small text at the bottom of the screen during the credits of all television shows that reads something similar to, “Please remember to turn off the lights.” This would serve as a friendly reminder for all viewers, and would also show the television company’s commitment to energy efficiency.

While all of these new green technologies are great advancements, I feel that we need to remember some simple green techniques that often are forgotten, one being to turn off lights. So, continue to take part in the green movement. Buy the newest CFLs on the market, but please, remember to turn them off.


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