Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day 359 of our Green Year: Disposing of CFLs

Way back, about 350 days back or so, give or take a few days, we switched our house to CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Lights), or rather our old house in Rossland. At the new ranch, we set up CFLs as well. Some of these lights can last for upwards of 10 years, and that means that even though they are incredibly energy efficient, they will need to be replaced and if you want to be environmentally friendly, you won't just throw them in the garbage.

It is amazing, but only three percent of CFLs are disposed of correctly, or correctly recycled. The rest ends up in landfills and this creates a problem because the bulbs contain mercury. It is unfortunate that such an energy efficient product, that can literally save millions of tonnes of CO2 from going into the atmosphere, can also contain an element that is so poisonous to the environment. Mercury is so bad that if you drop one of these bulbs on the floor, everyone in the room should clear out for 15 minutes so that the dust can settle and the broken pieces can be swept up. Once you sweep it up, seal it in a bag and put it in the trash, most places won't take CFLs like this unfortunately so it has to go in the trash.

Thankfully, recycling CFLs is very easy because many companies and stores will take the old CFLs and dispose of them for you. Home Depot and IKEA are two places that take CFL lights. You can also visit and call 800-CLEAN-UP to find a list of places that you can dispose of the CFLs at.

One cool note. We were at Rona recently picking up another recycling bin for our ranch to help better organize everything and we saw this sign at the checkout. Good Job Rona!