Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Light Bulb Goes On

I just found this out. Did you know that all those old-style incandescent lightbulbs that you've dutifully replaced with compact flourescents bulbs, thereby saving sooooo much energy, good for you, pat yourself on the back. Ahem.

Well the new bulbs, those compact flourescents (CFL) have mercury in them. They have to, otherwise they wouldn't be so bright, manufacturers are researching how to make them without mercury. But still, yikes, mercury!

Soooo just like with batteries, we aren't supposed to throw them out in our trash.

Did you know that? I didn't!

All those blurbs about how we should switch from incandescent to CFL bulbs didn't include a little sentence that says "oh and by the way to keep mercury out of the landfill, make sure to recycle these newfangled bulbs." How hard would that have been ? Sheesh. Guess "they" thought that either by mentioning mercury or having to recycle something else would scare off too many people, thereby not saving all that energy.

What I wonder is it worth it? IS the energy saved by using CFL bulbs worth having the mercury now in the landfill, going up into the atmosphere when incinerated as in so many trash disposal places, or ending up in our water eventually? I'm still glad that I've switched over, I just wish I'd known! I've been using these bulbs for years and years , and I know that I have blithely thrown many away. Maybe not too many, but some.

Now that I know, I figure I better start spreading the word, thus this little mini-rant-e-lette.

If you want more info about this, where to take your used CFL and recycling in general, Earth911 is a great resource. Put in your zip code in the upper left corner box and the site customizes to your area. Also EnergyStar, the rating group of the EPA has some good info too.

Tell your friends and neighbors people!


kristen said...


we're talking about changing the majority of the bulbs in our house to the new ones - i believe the are cfl - apparently they have some with warmer light now - that was one of my main probs w/the cfl - wayyyy toooooo bluuuuue! anyway - grr argh!

kristen said...

okay - this is dh rob's response: The amount of mercury in those bulbs is a fraction of what you’d find in a standard thermometer. It’s a trace. Not enough to be a concern. You’re probably introducing less harmful chemicals into the world than all of the extra hydrocarbons needed to create the extra electricity to power an incandescent bulb.