If you're reading this, chances are you've switched many of your incandescent light bulbs for more efficient and long-lived CFLs. I did. Because saving energy, saving money and saving the planet all at the same time is exciting! How could I resist?
I was really bummed out when one of my CFLs kicked the bucket after just a few months. What? I thought it would be years before I had to replace one. But I swallowed the fact that green ideas are just like other kinds of innovation. They aren't always perfect the first go 'round. There's often an element of trial and error — even failure.
Now what to do with this dud?
Seems to me that CFLs came on the market long before a program existed to dispose of them. Today disposal is easy, thanks to municipal programs, retailers, and manufacturers — see Product Care or Earth 911 for drop-off locations. And now there are safe disposal tips because of the mercury issue. (Some new bulbs are mercury-free.)
But it was long after my first CFL purchase that I read about tips for proper use!
My dud of a CFL may not have been a dud at all. I was so keen to save the planet, I unknowingly plugged it into a death trap. That's right. I placed that CFL into a recessed light, which can trap heat and cause premature burn-out. Adding insult to injury, I stuck that poor CFL in a fixture I constantly flicked off and on — my bathroom light — which also shortened its life. Who knew?
My personal CFL drama comes to light in the face of a Canadian efficiency standard set to take effect in 2012. It will end the sale of inefficient bulbs. The good news is that CFL technology continues to improve (remember the pale blue light?), disposal systems are widespread, instructions for safe clean-up exist AND people are becoming more aware of proper usage.
Check out myths about CFLs outlined by Guy Dauncey, president of the BC Sustainable Energy Association and Environmental Working Group's Guide to Light Bulbs.
How have you brought CFL light into your life?
Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green