More firms taking Earth Hour beyond just 60 mins

But mainstay of the green movement - lights-out - will take place at 8.30 tonight
Lim Wei Sheng Business Times 31 Mar 12;

IT may last only an hour, but the significance of Earth Hour should endure.

At 8.30 pm, darkness will sweep over the Singapore skyline as facades and billboard lights alike are snuffed out. This has been an annual affair since Singapore's first Earth Hour in 2009.

The lights-out kickstarts a flurry of activities from a human formation at Ngee Ann City to a live 'junkyard' percussion performance at 313@Somerset and movie screenings for foreign workers by Keppel Group.

Dining in the dark will be the night's special for Resorts World Sentosa and Park Regis Hotel, while Four Seasons Hotel and Rasa Sentosa Resort are promoting menus or recipes that use energy-efficient cooking methods or natural ingredients.

More than 300 corporate organisations will be part of this year's Earth Hour, the largest thus far. 'There is truly a lot of buzz about Earth Hour,' said Tan Yi Han, a senior volunteer for ECO Singapore. Online, terms such as 'earth hour 2012'and 'environmental pollution' were searched 40 times more frequently on Yahoo! in the lead-up to March 31.

However, the cornucopia of events is a cause for concern for some. 'The activities in Singapore are too piecemeal,' said Jenny Marusiak, deputy editor of news portal 'This year's I Will If You Will campaign was a great chance to pull people together around the environmental cause, but we (only) saw commendable but isolated efforts from individual businesses and groups,' she commented, referring to this year's theme which encourages people to undertake environmentally friendly practices by offering incentives in return.

Almost all companies participating in Earth Hour this year are engaged in the hallmark lights-off activity, but fewer have customised activities in line with the campaign premise, choosing to host more generic events instead.

Still, some have proven themselves game for this year's theme. The few that have include Phillips Lighting Singapore - pledging to donate $100,000 worth of LED bulbs if 100,000 households make the switch to a least one LED lighting solution. Carrefour plans to donate up to $10,000 if customers purchase an eco-bag at $1 each. The Royal Plaza on Scotts introduced a philanthropic dimension, pledging to donate sales proceeds from its eco-friendly soya candles to the APSN Centre for Adults upon support from at least 500 hotel guests.

I Will If You Will is set to be a mainstay. Said Diana Chng, communications manager for organiser World Wildlife Fund: 'Over the next three years, we will be executing the IWIYW theme to further engage individuals, businesses, governments and agencies.'

There is also the perennial question of what happens after the lights flick back on. 'What's lacking in these activities is a sense of continuity and doing things on a more frequent basis,' said Jose Raymond, executive director of the Singapore Environment Council. This desire is echoed by the organisers. 'It is not a numbers game. Our aspiration from the beginning was to go far beyond the hour itself,' says Ms Chng.

Encouragingly, the green cause is spreading across corporate calendars. CapitaLand is launching a Wear Less Day on every first Friday of the month, during which employees will dress down in turned-up air-conditioning. Others intend to use festive dates as green platforms, with The Singapore Cruise Centre hosting a Save the Shark road show during Chinese New Year, and City Square Mall organising an event where shoppers transform mailers into hanging Christmas tree ornaments.

Some businesses have risen to the call for meaningful and sustained CSR efforts. Said Fiona Yeo, marketing executive for Body Shop Singapore: 'We have consistently avoided excessive packaging for our products. Only 3 per cent of our entire inventory has secondary packaging, mostly due to regulatory reasons.'

Shangri-La Resorts and Hotels has also announced plans to phase out bluefin tuna and Chilean seabass as part of its sustainable seafood policy.

Jones Lang LaSalle's Asia Square has an in-house biodiesel generation plant which recycles waste cooking oil from F&B tenants, a first in Singapore, according to project director Mark Rada.

'Responsible businesses are not just profitable . . . they measure and contribute to positive environmental and social impacts,' noted Thomas Thomas, executive director of the Singapore Compact for CSR.

Lights out for Earth Hour
Celebrations to be held in Orchard, Marina Bay and West Coast tonight
Feng Zengkun Straits Times 31 Mar 12;

LIGHTS will be darkened across Singapore for a good cause tonight.

Celebrations for this year's Earth Hour, which encourages people to switch off their lights for one hour, will expand beyond the main event in Orchard Road.

The global climate change movement will also be marked by festivities at West Coast and Marina Bay.

Started in Sydney in 2007, the annual lights-out has spread to more than 5,000 cities and towns across 135 countries, and is rapidly gaining traction in India, Indonesia, China, Latin America and the United States.

Last month, the campaign's organisers said they would move their headquarters from Sydney to Singapore by May to take advantage of the Republic's technological prowess and location within Asia.

At Orchard Road tonight, malls such as Ion Orchard which have dazzled Singaporeans with their bright facades will go dark for 10 hours, starting from 8.30pm.

Activities along the prime shopping street will include dance and music performances. A 'fashion swop' at 313@Somerset will also allow women to exchange clothes and accessories with one another from 4pm onwards.

Meanwhile, at Marina Bay, a workshop to create light-related art pieces will be held in the evening at The Lawn, a public open space next to the Marina Bay Financial Centre.

The animated movie Kung Fu Panda 2 will be screened for free at the lawn from 8pm, and food and drinks will be sold.

West Coast residents can opt to join their neighbours instead at Block 728, West Coast Promenade, Clementi West Street 2. Grassroots organisers have arranged an evening of performances, arts and craft booths and a night walk from 7pm.

The theme for this year's campaign is 'I Will If You Will', aimed at promoting Earth- friendly practices beyond the annual celebration.

Radio station Power 98 FM deejay Derrick Siu, for example, has pledged to take cold showers for three months if 800 people commit to taking them for three consecutive days.

Earth Hour is from 8.30pm to 9.30pm tonight.