Friday, May 30, 2008

Unscrew America (and your old light bulbs!)

If you haven’t visited this site yet, you should definitely take a few minutes to check out Unscrew America. It’s a campaign run by Lesley Chilcott, one of the producers of "An Inconvenient Truth," intended to encourage the switch from incandescent light bulbs to more energy-efficient CFLs and LEDs. More details at

The site features cartoons and lessons about energy-efficient CFL and LED light bulbs, which make it really fun and also pretty educational. Don’t expect requests to go out and change the world – only a statement that “ridiculously good things will happen” if we can all move to more energy-efficient bulbs.

There are lots of interesting facts on the site, but something new that I learned and wanted to share with the group. Apparently CFL’s contain mercury, so need to be disposed of as you would dispose other types of hazardous waste. They suggest you check your city’s website or visit to find collection programs in your area. So no throwing them in your trash!


Angela said...

You are doing a wonderful service to the planet. The more people hear and see this message, the more it sinks in. Thank you for caring. Keep trying. I'll send this article and the included links out, too. I find that the polar bear starving thing tends to make headway with people. My husband immediately started re-cycling his wine bottles when I connected my re-cycling bin with his telling me that the polar bears were drowning!

Johnny 5 said...

I am less than enthusiastic about compact fluorescent light bulbs. As someone who sells light bulbs for a living, I understand the value of energy conservation, but not at the cost of health risks posed by compact fluorescent bulbs. Any amount of mercury poses a significant danger, and there is no good justification for introducing this into homes or schools. Disposal of broken compact fluorescent bulbs is challenging at best, and toxic at worst. It is my belief that the technology should progress to a point at which the mercury levels are low or nonexistent (which we are already seeing with LED bulbs) before people changeover their entire homes.

Krissy said...

Most CFLs today on the market contain less than 5mgs of mercury and there are CFL options out there that contain as little as 1.5mgs of mercury- which can hardly be called a “significant amounts of mercury” considering that many item in your home contain 100s of times more of mercury including your computer. Mercury levels in CFLs can never be “nonexistent” since mercury is a necessary component of a CFL and there is no other known element that is capable of replacing it. But CFLs actually prevent more mercury from entering the environment. According to the Union of Concerned Scientist, “a coal-fired power plant will emit about four times more mercury to keep an incandescent bulb glowing, compared with a CFL of the same light output”.