When I was in high school, a teacher once told our class that it takes thirty days to form a new habit, and only three days to break it. That statistic stuck with me – spend a month changing the way I behave, and soon, I’ll do it automatically without even thinking of it.
Turns out that whole “thirty days” thing is just an urban legend. The core idea behind it, though, is solid. If you do something over and over again, enough times and for enough days, soon, you’ll always do that thing, like it’s encoded into your brain.
Here at the Drought Diaries, we believe that small steps can add up in big ways. We know our readers are busy with their lives, their families, their jobs, their homes, their hobbies, and everything else going on in our hectic days. We know it’s not feasible to ask everyone to compost what’s in their toilet or shower outside or install giant barrels to harvest hundreds of gallons of water (although for those of you that do those things, we applaud you.)
And that’s why we advocate, instead, for small steps that don’t require a major lifestyle change. If it’s yellow, let it mellow. Don’t run the faucet continuously while washing dishes or brushing your teeth. Skip a shower occasionally. Implement meatless Mondays.
But there is a catch with all those little things. Every single drop counts, and every bit adds up, but only when there are many people contributing many little bits and single drops. Your role in all of this is to make sure you take these water-saving steps consistently. If you turn off the faucet while you’re brushing your teeth, that’s great, but if you go right back to running it for the rest of the week, well, that’s not quite as great.
Sure, we all forget once or twice. And sometimes, we’re going to see a spike in our water usage because we really need a long shower after a long, grimy camping trip or we need to unwind after a long day with a delicious but water-intensive bacon cheeseburger. And it’s OK to slip up so long as we otherwise make a habit of saving water day by day.