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Danielle Jenkins | Greenwise

Turn off the lights

Published: Friday, February 8, 2013

Updated: Friday, February 8, 2013 11:02

Turning off the lights seems like a simple enough task. You walk over to the switch, flip it down and keep on walking. Even so, I don’t always remember. When I am running late to class, or rushing to a meeting, or heading out for the “best night ever” (still has yet to happen), my lights are not the first thing on my mind. I walk, or run, out the door and rarely glance back at my room to make sure that everything is in order.

In old homes on Boston Avenue, this simple task can be especially hard. For instance, my bathroom’s light switch is outside, rather than inside, the bathroom. Just last week, someone left the bathroom light on and the door was closed. When I woke up, I strolled over to the bathroom and saw the band of light underneath the door. Not wanting to disturb anyone’s business, I made my coffee, drank some water, and ate some cereal; in short, I sealed my own fate.

The rest of the morning was problematic. One housemate would leave her room, see the bathroom light on and the door closed, sigh in exasperation and later desperation, and go back to her room to wait for the door to open. When her door would close, another person emerged from her room thinking that the bathroom was free, only to see the light and return unfulfilled to her room. I ended up pacing back and forth in my room, legs crossed, preparing to dash to the bathroom the second my housemate had left. Finally, three of us left our rooms at once, saw each other, looked at the door, looked back at each other, and then pushed open the door to find an empty bathroom. That was that, all because someone left the light on.

I live with four environmentally conscious people and even we forget to turn off the lights. Sometimes I run out of my room without thinking twice, because I’m “just getting a glass of water,” but then I get distracted by the TV or the people downstairs or something as simple as how dirty a college apartment gets. Two hours later, I go back to my room and the light is still on. Guilty as charged. And it’s not just environmental guilt. My good friends over at Mythbusters once taught me that the only time it uses more energy to turn a light on and off instead of keeping it on is if you have LED lights and you turn them off for less than a fraction of a second. Since I’m not planning on having an LED light rave, I probably should just turn them off. My other source of guilt stems from my ever−increasing bills which are at an all−time high due to the cold weather this month.

My housemate put up a prompt by the door, but that’s not always the limiting factor on whether I remember to turn the lights off. Luckily, this week I found a new way to remind myself to turn off the lights. Lately, I’ve started to think about the light differently and I haven’t left it on once. Let me impart my newfound wisdom: The next time you leave your dorm room, or your apartment, or your bathroom, ask yourself, “How would I feel if someone turned me on and then just left the room?”



Danielle Jenkins is a senior majoring in English and environmental 
studies. She can be reached at

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