By now you have all seen or heard of CFLs (compact florescent lights), those little spirally light bulbs that look like the skeleton of a soft ice cream cone. But what you might not know (or have thought about) is why making the switch to CFLs from your Edison-era incandescent bulbs is imperative.
CFLs, when compared with standard incandescent bulbs (SIBs), offer many benefits. First, the most obvious thing, they help save energy and money. In fact, they use 2/3 less energy then SIBs, and last up to ten times longer. By replacing a 60-watt SIB with a 13-watt CFL, you can save you around $30 in energy costs over the life of the bulb. Second, CFLs produce about 70% less heat than SIBs, meaning they’re safer to operate and can help further cut energy costs associated with home cooling. CFLs last longer and fit almost any fixture, same as your SIBs.
But now for the other half of the story—as of February 2006, CFLs have been classified as Hazardous Waste and must be disposed of accordingly. That’s because they contain a very small amount of mercury sealed within the glass tubing (an average of about five milligrams, roughly equivalent to the tip of a ball point pen).
So what do you do with your CFLs when they have come to the end of their long life cycle? For one thing, do not throw them in your household garbage. Green alternatives are available all over the IE. Mercury is classified as a “Universal Waste” and must be recycled. Go to www.earth911.org (where you can find disposal options by using your zip code) or call (877) EARTH911 for local disposal options. Here in the IE, Riverside County Waste Management is a great option. Check their site at www.rivcowm.org for collection events and permanent collection sites to do you part.
Like Kermit said, “it’s easy being green.”