March 11, 2008

A Bright Idea

cfl.jpg The compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) has become the poster child for the green movement, specifically the small steps individuals can do to lessen their carbon footprint. One Billion Bulbs is trying to mobilize people around the world to replace one billion incandescents with CFLs (of course, some of you may be forced to by law). "It would make a difference to the environment - preventing greenhouse gases equivalent to the annual emissions of millions of cars." By signing up at One Billion Bulbs and tracking your light bulb changes, you can quickly see how this small step really does have an impact! "Your grand kids will thank you for it."

Did you know that CFLs contain small amounts of mercury and should not be thrown into your household garbage can? CFLs have to be disposed of at hazardous waste material sites; however, the amount of mercury in a CFL is still significantly lesser than the pollution caused by the power plants needed to power your old incandescents. To put it into perspective, the Green Guide states:

The amount of mercury in CFLs is relatively small, approximately 5 milligrams (mg), which is roughly equivalent to the mercury in two cans of albacore tuna. Older mercury-based thermometers contained about 500 mg...Depending on where you live (and the mixture of your local energy supplier), you could be releasing as much as 18 mg of mercury into the atmosphere to operate one incandescent bulb over its lifespan. A CFL, on the other hand, produces an estimated 4 mg over its lifespan as a result of burning coal (9 mg total when added to the 5 mg that exist in the bulb). If one billion incandescent light bulbs were replaced with CFLs, we could prevent 100 million grams of mercury emissions.

Read More in: Energy Savers

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Posted by Jennifer Lance at March 11, 2008 6:12 AM

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