What are you doing at 8:30 tonight?

If you’re like millions of other people around the world, you’re planning on turning out your lights for an hour.

Photo: makelessnoise

Tonight is the third year celebrating Earth Hour, a global climate change awareness project started in Sydney. More than two million homes and businesses turned off their lights for the first Earth Hour; last year, more than 50 million people around the world did the same.

This year, the organizers are aiming to have 1 billion people turn off their lights between 8:30 and 9:30 PM. Major landmarks, including New York City’s Empire State Building, will also turn off their lights.

Maybe the idea of turning off your lights for an hour leaves you wondering what you’ll do with this prime time part of Saturday night.

If that’s the case, here are 4 ideas about how you can spend your Saturday night–with the lights out.

1. Throw a candlelight cocktail party.

Invite some friends over for a last minute get-together (and encourage them to turn their lights off, too). Fire up the candles and dig out the old cocktail shaker. Need some cocktail recipes? Check this list of our refreshing world favorites and stock up before lights out.

2. Get out your guitar.

You’ve been meaning to strum some chords for a while, but you never seem to find time to get around to playing. Pull out the guitar–or whatever instrument you might play–and head to your apartment, house, or hostel stoop. Maybe you’ll meet some neighbors. Maybe they’ll even play along.

3. Go for an evening walk.

In some parts of the world, it’s still light outside at 8:30. But even if it’s not, why not take a walk? The weather’s mild in most places (except the Western US, where you may be without lights anyway due to massive spring snowstorms). You may even want to dust off that pocket astronomy guide and reacquaint yourself with the stars.

4. Share stories.

We spend so many of our days disconnected from one another–even from the people we live with. Take this hour to catch up… you never know where it may lead; you may just want to keep the lights out a little bit longer.

COMMUNITY CONNECTION:

While taking an hour out for the Earth is important, it’s not likely to make a big difference. You might want to use Earth Hour to think about other ways you can reduce your reliance upon power. Unplug unused appliances. Disconnect from the computer. Start learning more about the products you buy and the impact they have on the environment.