Give them your tired, your poor, your burnt CFLs…

I took a little bit of heat for recommending CFLs (compact fluorescent lightbulbs) to readers.  Some people really object to them because of their mercury content.

They do contain some mercury (about four milligrams – old thermometers used to contain 500 milligrams – yikes!) and we do need to be more careful not to break them.  I’ll take this opportunity to say, if you DO break one, go here for proper clean up instructions.  But I still believe the switch to CFLs is a necessary step that all households need to take… I won’t change my view on that.

Enter: Home Depot

I can’t believe I just heard about this(!) but Home Depot recently started a program dubbed their National CFL Bulb Recycling Initiative.  All you need to do is bring your burned out, UN-broken CFLs to a Home Depot location, hand them to a store associate in customer service and they’ll turn them over to an environmental management company so they are properly disposed and won’t cause contamination.

This is such good news, because there are 1,973 Home Depot locations in the United States and 75% of households are within a 10 mile radius of one of their stores.

Bravo, Home Depot!

Now, not only do we have an opportunity to make the right choice in purchasing CFLs but we can also be guilt-free afterward.

So, step number one: don’t drop the damn bulb! 🙂 Step two: five years from now, when they FINALLY burn out(!) take them for a drive to Home Depot and say ’thank you very much!’

A Confession

Yes, I have a confession. I leave lights on in the daytime.

The back of our house is on a beautiful, heavily treed ravine and our kids’ bedrooms are situated at the back of the house, so they tend to be a bit dark regardless of the time of day. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always left a small lamp on each of their dressers lit all day long, otherwise the rooms seem dark and gloomy. I know it’s selfish, but dark, gloomy children’s bedrooms feel sad to me.

I have tried to be at least a bit more conscious of this habit by gradually replacing all of our home’s light bulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescent lights). Honestly, these bulbs are great. They take some getting used to because when you first switch them on, there is a second delay before they actually illuminate and the color of the light they emit is different that what I’m used to. And I occasionally swear at that tilted lampshade because they aren’t so friendly to shades with wire holders that attach directly to the bulb(!), but I’m willing to deal.

While they are more expensive, they last eight or nine times as long as incandescent bulbs and only need to be replaced every five to six years! Plus, they are recommended for places where lights are on for long periods of time (e.g. my kids’ bedrooms!) since frequent switching on and off can shorten their life.

But my favorite fact is this: If every household in the U.S. replaced one light bulb with a CFL, it would prevent enough pollution to equal removing one million cars from the road…now that’s powerful!