Incremental Improvements

My American friends often joke about British weather, and pity the time I have to spend on this rainy island. I usually respond that, believe it or not, Cambridge is really quite dry. Well, this winter, the weather is clearly out to prove me wrong!

To me, the never-ending storm, flooding, Cam-turned-whitewater, wind-so-loud-it-wakes-me-up seems evidence of climate change. In this context, it seems strange when people don’t even lift a finger (literally) to do anything about it.

I say literally, because I’m talking about flipping a light-switch.

I had noticed on several occasions that the light in the kitchen on our floor was left on. When I saw this, I usually just turned it off, thinking maybe someone stepped out and forgot. But when I noticed the bathroom light being left on from time to time, I was just confused. If you go to the toilet and turn on the light, why wouldn’t you just turn it off when you leave?

Yesterday, as I was passing the toilet I turned off the light. And then I turned off the light in the kitchen. Several hours later, I saw the light in the toilet on again. And in the shower-room. My first thought was “seriously? It’s not that hard to flip a switch! Shouldn’t it be a habit? Don’t they know it’s important?”

I had every intention to get upset, grumble, and do nothing. But then, I realized that it was unlikely that whoever was leaving the light on was doing so for a malicious reason. It didn’t matter why the light was left on, but that it be turned off in the future. If, for some reason, turning the light off wasn’t a habit for someone, why not help make it a habit?

So last night, I took out some bright green post-it notes, and wrote “DON’T FORGET TO TURN THE LIGHT OFF” on them in sharpie, and stuck them to the inside of the bathroom and kitchen doors. It  seemed so obvious a solution that I doubted it would work, but the post-its are still there, and I haven’t seen the light left on when no one was in the room. Perhaps it’s too early to tell, but I’m glad it seems to be working!

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