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Seriously, turn it off!

IMAGINE a neighbourhood lit with flickering candlelights and the only sounds heard are people conversing with each other.

I know, there has been much talk about Earth Hour in the media but for those who are not in the know, Earth Hour is all about minimising electricity usage.

Since 2007, this campaign has been held on the last Saturday of March and at 8.30pm local time.

Started by WWF and the Sydney Morning Herald, it is all about households and businesses turning off non-essential lights and electrical appliances for an hour.

With this step, they hope to create and raise awareness on the need to take action over global climate changes.

It is such a small thing to do for an individual, a little more of an effort for a corporation but brings a huge benefit to our planet Earth.

Last year, over 400 cities participated in this campaign and they are looking at over 1,000 cities this year. Some reports have said that a city can save up to 13 per cent of electricity usage in an evening of the campaign.

Quite a few establishments around town support this campaign and have scheduled events on this evening.

Go on, join the light-saving brigade and help make Earth a better place to live in.

1. In Kuala Lumpur, CapSquare is supporting Earth Hour 2009 through its several events:

Walk of Hope

At 6pm today, unite and go the extra mile by joining a charity walk with family and friends.

The walk will start at Persiaran CapSquare. It continues along Jalan Ampang and back to Persiaran CapSquare. It'll take 25 to 30 minutes.

There will be celebrity participants at the walk and around 500 people walking.

The walk will be led by a marching band and Charm All Stars Cheerleaders.

Tickets for the walk will be sold at RM10 and proceeds will be donated to WWF-Malaysia.

Each participant will get a free limited-edition Earth Hour-Walk of Hope T-Shirt and a Goodie Bag designed by Melinda Looi.

Changing the World in 60 minutes

At exactly 8.30pm tonight, CapSquare will turn off its lights in support of Earth Hour.

There will be a countdown to darkness at CapSquare and participants as well as patrons will have a perfect view of KL Tower with its lights being turned off at the same time.

Furthermore, you can dine by candlelight at their eateries and enjoy a host of low-powered shows such as Oriental drums (which will start after the countdown, as soon as the lights are turned off), a fire-eating show, a brass band performance, a cheerleading performance and tap dancing by Jojo Struys.

Pete Teo is also organising a group of artistes to perform Here in My Home at CapSquare just before lights-on.

Eco-Bazaar

From 10am to 10pm today, enjoy Eco Bazaar at CapSquare featuring eco-friendly NGOs and non-profit organisations, corporate sponsors, and an eclectic mix of other vendors.

The main showcase of the bazaar will be eco-friendly premiums, recycled products, F&B knick-knacks, trinkets, vintage clothing, food galore to satisfy visitors all-day, etc.

2. In Selangor, One World Hotel Supports Earth Hour 2009 with Happy Hour.

Switching off their faÁade lights and sky sign during the hour, the hotel hopes to send a clear message to the public of their commitment towards the event. In-house guests will be invited to join in the event and messages will be sent to their rooms to encourage them to switch off non-essential lighting in the rooms.

During the hour, all of their guests will be invited to the hotel's Long Bar. During Earth Hour, beverages will be offered at Happy Hour rates. So, drink up, people!

3. In various parts of the country, YTL Corporation Supports Earth Hour 2009 with:

Acoustic Performances At 8.30pm tonight, shoppers and diners at Starhill Gallery in Kuala Lumpur can look forward to acoustic performances by Sean Ghazi, Deanna Yusoff and young environmental activist and performer Jes Ebrahim. Five Arts Centre will stage a shadow stage play, all held at Shook! Feast Village.

Dining Under the Stars

YTL Establishments Supporting Earth Hour 2009:

* Starhill Gallery, KL

* Pangkor Laut Resort

* JW Marriott, KL

* Tanjong Jara Resort, Terengganu

* The Ritz-Carlton & The Residences, KL

* Cameron Highlands Resort

* The Majestic Malacca

* Lot 10, KL

* The KL Performing Arts Centre

* Vistana, KL

* The Saffron at Sentul East, KL

* Vistana, Penang

* Vistana, Kuantan

These will also be serving special Earth Hour menus by candlelight. There's also Dining under the Stars, a romantic dinner experience held by the hotels' pools for guests. It is also an opportunity to stargaze serenaded by musicians.

Viewing the Stars

YTL's Wisma Atria in Singapore will keep interior lights at a minimum. Activities include a DJ booth, late-night shopping and even a chance to view the stars up close vis telescopes strategically placed outside the mall.

4. Everywhere else in Kuala Lumpur, support Earth Hour 2009 by:

Dining by Candlelight

* Traders Hotel, Sheraton Imperial, La Bodega, Telawi Street Bistro and Espressamente illy restaurants are turning off non-essential lighting in and around their establishments during that hour.

They are also promoting dining by candlelight. Traders Hotel will set up a booth to sell WWF-Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur t-shirts.

* Ancasa Hotels & Resorts has specially printed Earth Hour t-shirts at RM15 nett each.

Those who don these T-shirts today will be entitled to a delightful candlelight dinner at the hotel's Saffron Brasserie for only RM10++ per person.

Just before 8.30pm, there will be an Earth Hour presentation followed by a balloon drop and live band performance at the lobby area.

If you check into the hotel today, you will be given a free T-shirt so you may enjoy the RM10++ dinner.

7-minute Speed Dating

Well, not exactly speed-dating but the concept of it is similar with the event held in Subak Restaurant on Jalan Penchala Indah in Bukit Lanjan.

At 7.30pm today, with a minimum donation of RM50 (which goes to WWF), you can absorb environmentally-friendly facts from personalities such as Kid Chan, Chelsia Ng, James Baum, Jonathan Putra and the like.

For seven minutes at a time, you jump from table to table and personality to personality, learning about how to keep your carbon foothprint low.

5. Books to Read

I would suggest you read these two titles in the daytime to save electricity. Besides, there are quite a few things happening around town this evening, anyway! The books are readily available at MPH or good bookstores near you.

Seven Wonders for a Cool Planet by Eric Sorensen Sierra Club / RM38.90

What do a clothesline, a locally grown tomato, and a microchip have in common?

They're all ordinary things that can have an extraordinary impact in the fight against global warming.

Carbon dioxide from vehicles, appliances, heating and cooling systems and other common devices is thickening the Earth's atmosphere and causing dangerous climate changes around the globe.

Some everyday things - like the seven wonders described in this book - can vastly reduce these impacts.

The wonders are profiled in short, lively chapters that also explore the key issues behind global warming: transportation, population, fossil fuel efficiency, renewable energy, food production and distribution, resource conservation and reuse and the information economy.

With its inspiring vision and simple but sound explanations of complex processes, this hopeful little book offers a powerful template for personal action.

A Complaint Free World by Will Bowen

Virgin Books / RM44.90

Harness the power of positive thinking and change your life in 21 days.

Have you ever noticed how much we complain? Bitching and moaning are not only a waste of time, they also have harmful effects on your life.

So how can you focus on the positive, happy things in life instead?

Will Bowen shares the simple, innovative philosophy of staying "complaint-free" and reveals how it can change your life.

He explains what constitutes a complaint (and what doesn't), why we complain, what benefits we think we receive from complaining, how complaining is destructive and how we can all stop complaining and start thinking and acting in positive ways.

Join the five million people worldwide who have taken the complaint-free challenge!

With this book's powerful yet simple message, and a little determination, you too can achieve a positive attitude and improve your life.

My To-Do Ideas To Prolong The Hour

A few simple, everyday tricks we practise to bring my four-bedroom house's electricity bill down to less than RM80 per month without compromising on comfort and ambience:

* Start with lower watt bulbs around the house as habit. 40 watt and 25 watt bulbs around the house do create a warmer, homey ambience. Not to mention using energy saving ones for our porch light. It might be an idea to make a habit out of reading in the daytime.

* Iron your clothes once a week and do a full load. Re-heating the iron is what costs! Likewise, turn off your television instead of having it on standby.

* Boil water using the gas stove in a traditional kettle. If you have to use an electric kettle, do it once a day and store the hot water in a very good flask.

* Reduce the usage of hot water during shower. Seriously, we get 40-degree days and there's nothing like a cool shower to bring temperatures down.

* Remember that air-conditioning is the worst enemy to your skin. It dehydrates, wrinkles and flakes your skin and scalp.

Why not cool down your room for three to four hours before bedtime and turn it off the rest of the night? A fan can carry on cooling you till morning.

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