09 April 2008

Making Sustainability Sustainable – III:
Personal Decisions, part 1

Making Sustainable Sustainable I
Making Sustainable Sustainable II - Issues & Dilemmas

We (Abelisto & I) have been trying to pick one or two things at a time to do that will move us in a green direction.

First it was swap out the light bulbs in the house - out with incandescents, in with CFLs. I am not sure how much it helped us with the electric bill, but it felt like we were on our way. I can tell you, buying all CF lights for a 14-room house was expensive. We did it all at once, so the pain would be over quick - like jerking a bandaid off instead of easing it off. Mainly we did it in one-fell-swoop so that it would get done. At this point all the lights on the first and second floor of the house are CFLs, porch lights too. The basement still has four incandescent light bulbs. I keep forgetting to swap them out.

The other day one light broke (I think son #2 was practicing swordsmanship inside the house instead of going outside to do it). It did not shatter, but just cracked at the base. For some reason, as I was giving him the replacement bulb, I happened to read the back of the package and saw that there are special recommended disposal practices for fluorescent bulbs - never knew that, should have. EGAD - my wonderful CFLs, those energy saving beacons of light, contain Mercury. Just a small amount, true, but I do not want to be adding any Mercury to the water table here. Already you cannot safely eat the fish from the lakes and rivers. I stopped eating local fish in 1989.

I wondered how much Mercury my son was exposed to when he cracked that CFL. It is now inside a ziplock bag, waiting for a trip to the hazardous waste center.

NPR Story

EnergyStar (EPA program) Infosheet on CFLs & Mercury (pdf file) - a bit scary when you get to the part about cleaning up broken CFLs...

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