Posted by: The Paris Apartment | January 31, 2010

Consumers Will Have the Last Word

I’m glad and grateful you’re here. Thanks for taking the time  to look into the dangers behind Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs, from their creation to disposal. CFLs create a destructive trickle down effect, affecting everything from American jobs, to Mercury, coal mining, mountaintop removal and water contamination.

Before Bush left office, he signed a bill that passed GE’s lobby to replace millions of our current bulbs with toxic CFLs. (Toxic because they become ‘Hazardous Waste’ once they they burn out and have very specific disposal treatment guidelines to follow. Disposed of improperly, they will contaminate the water supply).

This is the last thing I want to be going off about but I found out too much  not to shout about it.

Because they have Mercury, if disposed of ‘improperly’, these bulbs will contaminate our water supply according to the EPA. I’ll let them explain.

This is from the EPA website under: Why is it important to recycle CFLs or other fluorescent light bulbs?

CFLs or other fluorescent light bulbs thrown into the trash are usually sent to a landfill or incinerated. These disposal methods will lead to releases of elemental mercury into the environment through breakage and leakage.  There is also the potential for exposure to mercury from broken fluorescent light bulbs thrown in a dumpster, trash compactor, or trash can.  Approximately 670 million fluorescent light bulbs are discarded each year in the United States. These discarded bulbs can release approximately 2 to 4 tons of mercury per year into the environment. Once in the environment, mercury can be converted to an organic form that accumulates in living organisms and contaminates the food chain. To prevent the release of mercury, the fluorescent light bulbs should be taken to a recycler before they break. Recyclers can recover the mercury and other components for reuse.

If you or your neighbors don’t have a toxic waste dump nearby, the bulbs will most likely go the way of the rest of the world’s garbage from Chile to Chicago.  What’s the percentage of recycling done around the world right now? Or let’s say, America, even? Somewhere around 10%? Will we have time to educate the world and open all the newly needed (ungreen)  toxic waste dumps in time? What about those already out here?  The scary thing is that GE’s packages don’t have ANY disposal warning on them. Really!  Take a look next time you’re at Target or the super market.  And Walmart is selling hundreds of millions of them. Where are they going to go?

Contaminating the world’s water supply because of these is too intense to contemplate.  CFLs  have been so thoroughly ingrained into our collective consciousness as something  good if not great.  How did they do that?

Thanks for thinking about it. As consumers we have the power to decide where our money goes, and purchasing these supports GE’s attempt to capitalize on something every single room in the world needs. A simple light bulb.  But instead of acting responsibly, GE has created a product not built to last but with the usual ‘planned obsolescence’,  leaving a trail of disaster behind. Or ahead. It’s our call!



  1. Thanks, @theparisapartment,
    for keeping on top of this habitation disaster. (My favorite restaurant, “Organic Oasis”, just switched out to cfls. Now the place is uncomfortable to be in [instant subtle headache], and enjoying food there is impossible).

    Let’s track some of the CARBON FOOTPRINTs [above that standard screw-in base]:
    Chug-chug, ship more raw materials to the plant (which may be in US, China or Malasia).
    _chug. Start with manufacture, -more carbon footprint, with more of “stuff”.
    _chug. Mfrg process more complicated twisting more glass; assemblies.
    _chug. There’s a circuit board in that white plastic bottom. It has lead, fabricated electronics, outgassing plastics, etc.
    _chug. It has (an also manufactured) heavy plastic AND paper shrinkwrap package.
    _chug-chug: it’s heaver to ship anywhere. And longer time spent in fuel and enginewear if being shipped from overseas.
    _chug. It’s WAY more expensive, so how much more of your own production/salary-carbon time do you generate to buy one instead of an incandescent?
    _chug. Yet if you spend more for an LED it lasts nearly forever, and needs much less materials [unchug], while it is false that the curly ones last longer, especially if you switch them off frequently.
    chug. Where did you throw all that packaging?
    chug. You drove to the recycler & spent more $.
    _chug. They can’t be recycled there; they have to be shipped to a plant that does (chug-chug) DE-manufacturing.
    chug. Then the de-mfrd materials are (chug) reshipped to various places.

    Did you break your 66¢ incand. bulb? Sweep it up and throw it in the trash ‘n glass bins.
    And the HEALTH problems? cg cg cg.

    Thanks for paying attention and reasoning the decision yourself.

  2. Oh, thank God you said that…it’s a tough topic to get the word out about, but you summed it up perfectly!
    Whew! Thank you!

  3. Thank you for all your effort, I’m impressed!
    Unfortunately, it isn’t just GE, globally, it’s Philips and Osram-Sylvania as well, just to name the big ones, who promote CFLs with lies and half-lies while shutting down bulb factories and cutting local jobs.
    For an in-depth look on how Europe got fooled into the CFL scam, and more, I also recommend “stopping over” at

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