Monday, February 19, 2007

Compact Fluorescents Cheaper?

Mckinleyville's Susan Morton takes issue this morning with the claim that Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs cost a lot of money. A subject of interest to me since we recently addressed on this blog a proposal in the state legislature to ban incandescent light bulbs.

Not only that but, coincidence of coincidences, I actually had to replace the CFL I had in the ceiling of my garage the other day. Not sure how long that bulb had been up there but it could well have been four or five years.

I bought a two pack of CFLs at the Henderson Center Rite- Aid a few days ago for around $10.00, after all was said and done. I guess I got a raw deal as that's quite a bit more expensive than the prices Susan cites.

Then, what do I do with the burned out CFL I replaced? As I mentioned earlier here, I used to just toss them in the trash, not knowing until recently they contained mercury and were considered hazardous waste.

I hadn't thought further on the actual mechanics of getting rid of the old CFLs until I had this burned out one to deal with. I didn't think too much about it and figured maybe the recycling center at Eureka City Garbage might accept them. Then again, I didn't remember ever seeing any receptacles there labeled for fluorescent lights.

As I drove into City Garbage, it struck me when I noticed the Hazardous Waste sign at the entrance. They have a small sheet metal building where they accept hazardous waste. I figured that was where it would probably need to go.

Nonetheless, I went ahead and asked the recycling guy if they accepted CFLs. He said, of course, "hazardous waste", pointing to the hazardous waste building.

The hazardous waste building was closed, as I'd already noticed. I made a point of pulling up close to it as I was leaving to read the sign on the front of it. Among other things it said hazardous waste was only accepted on Fridays and Saturdays from 9am to 1pm. No mention of any costs involved.

I tucked my tail between my legs and took my little light bulb home with me. I guess I'll have to remember to take it down there some time when I'm dumping green waste.

Boy, all that for a silly little light bulb?


At 11:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You are dead on with this one. Not only is this true of flourescent bulbs, but of batteries as well. I hate to think how many batteries of all kinds end up on landfills.

This problem is easily solved, but government (as usual) seems paralyzed by this one. A simple bin with a hole in it like you see for cans and various glass types would work fine. They is no way you should have to pay to do something to help the environment.

At 12:26 PM, Blogger Fred said...

I was thinking the same thing about maybe just providing a bin of some sort. I wonder if there's any supposed dust or vapor hazard with those lights, though? I'm sure many of them would get broken in a bin.

At 1:58 PM, Blogger ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

One used to be able to buy mercury (quicksilver) at the corner drug store. Not sure for what purpose but as children we applied it to coins (the ones that had silver in them in those days) to get them to really shine brilliantly. After a couple of days the coins turned dark and dull. The older kids who showed us how to do this are mostly dead now. Old age!

At 3:27 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Yes, but you know where the term "Mad as a hatter" comes from, don't you? In the days of old, hat makers used mercury in forming hats somehow or another. The constant exposure to mercury affected their brain and they'd go MAD!

As an aside, I took a look at the package my CFLs came in. It had a link to this this site.

Haven't taken too close a look at it but it just says recycling just keeps the mercury out of streams and such. No mention I've seen, so far, as to what they actually do in recycling these bulbs and, of course, I'm not sure if dumping off the bulbs at the hazardous waste disposal center ends up in any kind of recycling in the first place.

They might well just dump the bulbs in some sealed container and bury them somewhere. I don't know.

I'll have to look into it further.

At 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hazardous waste is usually disposed of in a landfill actually. It goes to special landfills where the ground composition is such that the mercury doesn't enter the water table, or if it does, it does so very slowly. Its clay or some sort of rock.

Will dumping a few CFL's in normal trash be a disaster? No. If you take a drive in lake county there are old Mercury mines all over the place. They used to burn these rocks to get mercury, sending dust everywhere and literally coating the ground in visible layers of mercury. Thats where all the elevated mercury levels come from. Its extraction and also it's use in gold mining all over California rivers has been truly devastating, even all these years later. People 100-150 years ago who had no idea what they were doing. Thats why you're not supposed to eat more than one serving of fish per week.

It's a nice thing to take the CFL's to hazardous waste, but frankly the damage is already done.

At 7:55 PM, Blogger barbara_shults said...

I saw charles smashing used flourescent light bulbs and grinding the pieces into harmful dust which will pollute the ground and air.

He is trully evil.

At 8:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Look forward to LED light prices coming down in the next 5 to 10 years. LEDs are far more energy efficient, without the mercury.

At 8:09 AM, Blogger Carol said...

Fred, there is no cost to disposing the hazardous waste. You pull up, they aske you what you have, and they remove it from your vehicle.

Personally, I do not like the light that exudes from florescents. It is harsh.

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Fred said...

LED sounds good to me, 8:02.

I don't mind the light, Carol. The one place where I would actually use a light for reading and such- the futon in the living room- the light fixture wouldn't accept a CFL, if memory serves me correct.

I'm not sure just how many CFLs we use in the house now. A few of them burned out and I replaced them with incandescents, if only because I had some incandescents laying around at the time.

I know there's two in the far side of the kitched, but we rarely turn those lights on. Those and the garage are the only ones I'm sure of.

Some of the other light fixtures you can't see what kind of bulb is in them and I don't remember what kind I put in them. I imagine they're probably incandescents.

At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You will never build support for light bulbs if you call them "CFLs."

"CFL" sounds like something that damages the ozone layer.

Adopt my name for them. A warm, fuzzy name, a name that just plain feels good.

Call them "Curlycue bulbs."

At 5:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred, Any bad thoughts I had about your having an evil character have been mitigated due to your diligent efforts to be a good recycler. Sure I know its only because at heart, you're an authoritarian and like to rigidly impose and obey absolute rules. But when they're rules (like recycling) that I personally agree with, authoritarianism is OK by me.

Costco and Longs have had many sales with instant PGE rebates of 4 curleycues (sounds too much like barbeque!!) as low as a buck. This Fall, HSU exchanged curleys for incandescents, even trade.

At 5:40 PM, Blogger Fred said...

"Any bad thoughts I had about your having an evil character have been mitigated due to your diligent efforts to be a good recycler.".

Boy, that's a relief. I was really worried someone might not like me. Thanks for the reassurance.

"Sure I know its only because at heart, you're an authoritarian and like to rigidly impose and obey absolute rules.".

You need some work on your reading comprehension, my friend (I think).

If you look back at the original post on CFLs from a few days ago (not this post), you'll see I was in opposition to a current proposal to ban incandescent bulbs in California- the supposed purpose being to replace them with CFLs- a cure certainly worse than the disease, imo.

You'll also see, if you look around the blog, I'm a Global Warming naysayer. Well, not exactly a naysayer, as I'll admit we might be in a short or long term warming trend overall. There's just no way to say for sure and I'm pretty well convinced human activity has little significant effect on the climate.

Human activity certainly might have some effect on the local level- a paved urban area will likely be much warmer than an unpaved area. Otherwise, human activity pales in comparison with nature's forces, as far as I'm concerned.

Oh still like me after saying that, don't you?

At 11:10 PM, Blogger Hayduke said...

Fred, you seem like a decent enough fellow, only ignorant in this case of global warming.

You are correct that nature is the largest contributor to greenhouse gases. But is like walking on out to the end of diving board, it is the last step that has consquences. Same with human impact on global warming. It may not look like much but the extra push by human activity has serious ramifications.

I am convinced if you take the time to continue to research this issue, you will eventually have to admit you are simply wrong about this one. You are often right, but we all possess false beliefs, which is why you want to always keep an open mind and keep listening. I don't want to keep on preaching here, but global warming has some serious possible consequences for our lives, including increased diesese, loss of productive crop lands, more severe weather and species eradication in addition to the rising sea levels that usually get mentioned. Not taking this seriously is liking playing dice with God, only the dice are loaded in God's favor.

At 7:46 AM, Blogger Fred said...

"I am convinced if you take the time to continue to research this issue, you will eventually have to admit you are simply wrong about this one.".

Don't have time to make a lengthy response right now but, suffice it to say, neither of us will likely be around to prove who's right. Even Global Warming believers contend that we're talking a few degrees of temperature change over the course of a century.

Neither of us will be here, global warming or no global warming, in a hundred years+- to prove the other wrong.

At 2:35 PM, Blogger Hayduke said...

Good point Fred, but I have kids and grandkids and feel responsible for trying to leave them a world worth living in. But then global warming may be the least of our problems. The world is such a dangerous place we may wipe ourselves out with nuclear weapons yet making the debate about global warming academic.


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