How often do you leave your room without turning off the lights, or walk by an empty room with the lights on?  It’s easy to disregard how much energy we use, especially if you’re living on campus and aren’t directly seeing or paying the electric bill.

This Saturday, March 26, the College, along with hundreds of millions of people around the world, will spend an hour in the dark (or almost dark) during Earth Hour from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.  Like Glenn Gilbert, utilities manager and sustainability coordinator, said, while conserving energy for just one hour doesn’t really save that much (about $15), it is an easy way to spread awareness among a large group of people.

I had the opportunity to realize how unnecessary the amount of electricity I normally use is while I was on Study-Service Term in Sénégal last summer.  My host family during the study portion didn’t have electricity in their home during my first three weeks there, so I got used to taking my nightly bucket shower and writing my last minute journals by candlelight.  My favorite part of the night was when my family would gather around the candle on our green-and-black plastic woven mat and eat dinner together.  My mom’s eyes would glisten in the soft flame of the candle as she rocked my baby brother to sleep, the call to prayer echoing outside from the mosque across the street.

Living without electricity for some time made me more conscious of how careless I often am about electricity use.  Now, I try to make it a point to turn lights off when they’re not being used, and to use smaller lights rather than big, overhead lights that take up more energy.

Turning the lights off inside and going outside to do things is a refreshing way to save energy, and having darkness at night can give you the opportunity to see the beauty of the night in a new way.  So tonight, turn the lights off for a while–maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of the moonlight.