Posted by: The Paris Apartment | January 21, 2010

Cropped right, anything can look good

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to post about CFLs because the thought of them makes me ill.  A couple months ago I didn’t know much (ok,was completely ignorant) about so many things from Mountain Top Removal, Carbon Sequestration,  GE, World Bank, Superfund sites, White House Advisors, Jobs, Coal, CEOs  the EPA and CFLs.  Once Pandora’s box was opened, I glimpsed a world beyond scary.  But some time’s passed and I’m less emotional and not letting the dark side ruin my days. I’ll be stocking up on regular light bulbs, let’s just say that.

I didn’t want to go off on this CFL trip but everything I’ve found out about them pushed my buttons to the point that I was compelled to write this blog. Still, I have to pick my battles (as much as I’d like to take on GE), so here goes: Even if these were the most energy saving, life affirming, gorgeous replacements for the ordinary incandescent bulb, there’s no way to spin them into an ethical alternative once we know how they’re made and have to be disposed of.

As far as production, the environmental tragedy ripple is staggering but to keep it simple, consider the additional Mercury mining needed to produce hundreds of millions of them, not to mention oil for the plastic packaging, or the fact that every single one is made overseas and our own award winning US light bulb factories were shut down to accommodate that shift.

Only we, as consumers and citizens, will decide to boycott or comply with the mandate banning regular old bulbs. Below is the EPA’s recommendation for cleaning up broken CFLs and disposing of the hazardous waste pieces that were once your bulb.

If double plastic bags, a trip to the toxic waste dump, and throwing away your contaminated bedding and carpets is green, I must be missing something. Yet on the packages,  there’s NO warning or disposal instructions on any of GE’s bulbs, yet they’re in every country, on a mission to trash regular bulbs (creating more garbage) and replace them all with these by law very soon. Why are there are no warnings when the EPA says they cause water and ground contamination if  disposed of impoperly? How are 3rd world countries going to be educated on this when we don’teven know about it?

Cleanup and Recycling of CFLs

CFLs are considered household hazardous waste. By law, they must be either be recycled or taken to an approved hazardous waste disposal site.

If a CFL breaks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website recommends special steps to follow for cleanup. These steps include airing out the room, putting all debris and cleaning materials into a sealed jar or double plastic bag, and avoiding the use of brooms or vacuum cleaners that might stir mercury into the air.

In addition, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection website recommends disposing of the carpet, rug or bedspread on which a CFL breaks. It also suggests that CFLs might not be appropriate in rooms used by infants, small children or pregnant women, who are more susceptible to mercury poisoning.

Many hardware stores and local disposal sites accept CFLs for recycling, and some companies now sell pre-paid shipping boxes addressed to recycling plants. Unfortunately, not everyone has easy access to these options, so about three out of four CFLs end up in landfills, where the mercury gets leached into the soil and groundwater.

We cannot pollute any more water with Mercury.
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One last thing : Below is Thomas Edison’s simple bulb sketch, a brilliant, beautiful and simple invention that’s now become a villain thanks to the CFL lobbyists (GE lobbied for years to make this happen and GWB signed the ok just before he left office. Now GE CEO Jeff Immelt is our White House Energy advisor and is still pushing his agenda, which is all over the place.
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They were warm AND gave off light. And you could throw it away without fear of contaminating your community water supply when it broke.
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fluorescent bulbs on the other hand are extremely complicated and don’t offer anything but a cold, neon cast.
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Each year, 600 million light bulbs are disposed of into landfills in the United States. This accounts for nearly 30,000 pounds of mercury waste. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency lists light bulbs as the third most dangerous product used in homes.
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Below is a ‘Broken CFL Cleanup Kit’.  Buying all these products in order to clean up the bulbs that were supposed to save us money is pure irony.

CFL Cleanup Kit via consumer.org.nz

But  that the EPA endorses it  for $19.95 is just plain insulting! Add that to the cost of the bulbs and how much have you saved exactly?

greenbulbstore.com/products/broken-cfl-clean-up-kits

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and i thought we were banning plastic bags!
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This woman broke one and had to open the windows for 15 minutes during the dead of winter. She was a good sport about it, but many arguments against incandescents is that they give off light AND heat. Is there something twisted there besides the coils of these hideous beasts?
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My biggest question in all of this is:  How did this get into our collective consciousness that this was a good thing, and what are we going to do about it? If you believe in the bulb, the regular bulb, please spread the word and don’t let it die for no good reason!
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Responses

  1. Great information! Please don’t stop!


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