Going beyond Earth Hour

Just two days ago, Hong Kong was named the worst city in the world for light pollution.

But this is all information Ali Bullock, head of communications at WWF, shrugs at.

"It's really not that surprising to me, Hong Kong people love their lights," he said.

But, he says the message of environmentalism is slowly starting to seep through.

"People know that the damage is out there, we see that the world is changing for the worst - the weather, the polar caps, but nobody actually cares that much to make that big of a difference."

And getting Hong Kongers to stick to the game is also a challenge he faces for the 364 days after Earth Hour, an annual event taking place tomorrow at 8:30 p.m. where the city turns off its lights for 60 minutes.

With enough funding for out-of-home ads on trams and busses, cross-city posters, celebrity endorsement, a partnership with Compass Visa, going full digital is the final step.

And this year, it does so with an interactive map that lets participating individuals, businesses and schools pin-point their address to show their support - a first-time project a cost nearly half of Earth Hour's media budget.

As an NGO with a tight budget, going digital is the most cost effective way to get personal with its audience, said Bullock.

"We can get as much reach with as little money - there's no way we can compete with others in terms of traditional media," he said.

"Plus, we want to give a voice to the participants, make the whole things sharable and personal by having them vouch for their building. It's a comeback to people who think ‘I can't make a difference': every switch on that map is already making a difference."

The real challenge, however, is going forward.

Bullock can't release its future plans, but he said WWF is set to send reminder emails of energy saving tips, enter into partnerships with celebrities and companies, and eventually, get a real-life case of how much money companies save from cutting energy use.

"The message of saving the planet is really really hard to sell. But we're taking it step by step by linking environmental damage and money saving," he said, citing the success of the plastic bag levy.

"We're advancing, albeit in really small steps. I really take it to heart that if Hong Kong wants something, they can do it."