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Shadows in the Candle's Glow: Bringing Sustainability to Light

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22 Mar 2024

4 Min Read

Ishaanaah Ravi (Alumni Writer), Nellie Chan (Editor)

IN THIS ARTICLE

Illuminate the dimmed impact of candlelight and light the way to sustainability beyond Earth Hour! Discover glowing solutions for a brighter future.

We all adore the warm glow of candles, don't we? They're everywhere: at candlelit dinners, late-night study sessions, or casual hangouts with friends. Beyond being trendy, candles serve as an alternative light source — a small act of rebellion against energy waste, particularly during Earth Hour when we swap electric lights for candlelight. 


Take, for example, the group of Buddhist monks in Thailand who made headlines by lighting 330,000 candles for Earth Day. It wasn't just a spectacle; it was a statement — proof that candles are a powerful symbol of eco-consciousness. But here's the catch: despite how people are using candles to make a difference, could they be doing potentially the opposite? Are candles really as eco-friendly as they seem? This Earth Hour, let's shed some light on the sustainability of our favourite trend.

The alternative may not always be the best.

Lit candle with melted wax dripping down its side

Let's delve into the candle craze that's been setting the mood for our cosy evenings. Well, as it turns out, not all are innocent mood-setters. Most candles are produced from paraffin wax, a byproduct of petroleum refining. (Yes, the same stuff powering your car!) When these candles burn, they emit a cocktail of pollutants like benzene and toluene, chemicals harmful to human health and the environment. Benzene is a known carcinogen that can cause various types of cancer, while toluene can irritate the respiratory system and contribute to air pollution. Not quite the ambience we were aiming for, huh?

 

So, here's the deal: in our commitment to be eco-conscious during Earth Hour, our choice to use candles might unwittingly contribute to environmental harm. It's like trying to save the planet with one hand while unknowingly polluting it with the other. We owe it to ourselves and the environment to dive deeper and make choices that genuinely leave a positive impact.

Calling all citizens: It’s time to be responsible!

Whether it's the energy-saving gesture of swapping for candlelight or the conscious decision to invest in reusable tote bags and sustainable clothing, our choices, no matter how small, contribute to the bigger picture of sustainability. Imagine a world where our environment flourishes, our communities prosper, and our resources are responsibly managed — that's the impact our choices could have! Thus, sustainability isn't just about saving the planet; it's about reimagining our role within it as stewards of the environment.

 

But how can we be better stewards and make better choices? (Given we were in the dark about candles just paragraphs ago.) We must commit to understanding how our choices impact the environment — learning about the products we buy and the practices of the companies we support. If the case of candles has taught us anything, it's not to follow the latest eco-friendly trend; it's to do our due diligence in educating ourselves about these trends before we adopt them. So, let's use the information at our fingertips to become responsible citizens, making truly sustainable choices for a more sustainable world.

What can we do beyond the hour?

  • Proactive Learning

First and foremost, we must practise proactive learning. Sustainability is more than mere actions like lighting a candle; it involves cultivating an understanding of the environmental and social implications of our choices. By actively educating ourselves about sustainability, we can make informed decisions that leave a positive impact on the planet. Watch documentaries, attend workshops, and subscribe to credible sources such as National Geographic and Greenpeace to expand your knowledge.

  • Mindful Energy Consumption

But it doesn't stop there: we must also be mindful of our daily energy consumption. While flicking off the lights for an hour is symbolic, genuine sustainability entails adopting habits of conscious energy usage all year round. Whether switching off the lights when leaving a room, unplugging electronics when not in use, or investing in energy-efficient appliances, every small step counts towards reducing our carbon footprint. Consider installing smart home devices to monitor and optimise energy usage efficiently.

Hand tugging at lamp's pull chain to switch it off
  • Conscious Consumerism

Moreover, conscious consumerism plays a pivotal role in sustainability. We must be discerning about the products we purchase, considering where they're sourced and how they're made. From opting for ethically sourced and sustainably produced products to supporting companies with transparent supply chains, our choices as consumers have the power to drive positive change. Read the product labels, look for eco certifications, and research the company's sustainability practices before making a purchase.

 

Sustainable living beyond Earth Hour demands more than just a checklist of eco-conscious choices — it requires expertly packaging these practices into a cohesive approach. That means embodying a mindset of responsibility and mindfulness across every aspect of our lives, from the products we consume to the energy we use. Only then can we pave the way for a brighter, greener world for current and future generations.

Conclusion

As the flickering flames of our candles gradually fade and the electric lights eventually return at the end of Earth Hour, it's easy to overlook the significance of this simple act. Nevertheless, let's keep the fire of sustainability burning bright. Let's make lighting a candle more than just a momentary gesture; let's make it a lasting commitment to living in harmony with our planet. Through environmental stewardship, such as proactive learning, mindful energy consumption, and conscious consumerism, we can transform Earth Hour into a timeless beacon, illuminating the path to sustainability beyond the hour.

Ishaanaah Ravi is a Bachelor of Education (Honours) alumna of Taylor's University who enjoys reading and creative writing in her free time. She also finds fulfilment in conducting volunteer work, believing that life is not just about what we receive, but also about what we give.

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