Celebrate Earth Day every day with earth-friendly products

Go Green Readers reading glasses made with recycled materials

Go Green Readers are made with recycled materials

As quickly as winter has morphed into spring, Earth Day has come and gone. An estimated 1 billion people in more than 192 countries around the world celebrated this global conversation on how to have a more positive impact on the planet.

With so many of us moving towards greening our lifestyles, I thought it would be fun to look at some earth-friendly products.

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Compact fluorescents can cause cancer?

CFLI’ve written a number of articles about the shortfalls and risks of compact fluorescent light bulbs. These include that CFL’s are expensive and, unless you’re willing to spend beaucoup bucks, they won’t deliver the kind of higher wattage we’ve come to expect from incandescents. Another concern is that CFL’s contain mercury, a highly toxic substance in itself, and if a bulb breaks, this poses a real hazard.

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LED bulbs brighten up with SWITCH

SWITCH Lighting's new LED builb draws a line in the sand with other LED's

Recently, SWITCH Lighting gave me a personal demonstration of their new LED bulbs, and it convinced me that incandescent light bulbs’ days are numbered with this new technology coming out next month.

Right now we have to choose between compact florescent bulbs (CFLs), which contain a measure of toxic mercury, and expensive, not-quite-bright-enough light-emitting diodes (LEDs). SWITCH Lighting’s new LED bulbs, however, draw a line in the sand from any other bulb I’ve tried.

To find out how strikingly bright and affordable these new LED bulbs are, see the full article at http://bit.ly/wQr1Jy.

IKEA will no longer carry incandescent light bulbs

As the phase out of incandescent bulbs begins, home furnishing giant  IKEA announced they will no longer carry the soon-to-be-outdated incandescent light bulbs in any of their U.S. stores, becoming the first US retailer to do so.

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EPA expands on clean-up rules for broken CFL

CFL’s (compact fluorescent light bulbs) contain what the Environmental Protection Agency and major retailers consider a “small amount” of powdered mercury in them.

Today, the EPA has updated their policy on how to safely deal with a broken compact fluorescent light bulb, a backhanded way of telling consumers that “small” is still toxic and dangerous.

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I can recycle that?

Recycling logo

If you thought recycling only meant paper, plastic or aluminum cans, think again.

More municipalities and waste management divisions are expanding what they’ll accept. Many now accept glossy-covered magazines. Some are accepting used batteries and a few have begun taking back used CFL’s or compact florescent lightbulbs (the curly-cue kind). Those last two, by the way, MUST be carefully packaged separately and brought back to your recycling center, not dumped into your recycling bin.

But the list is continually growing, as are the take-back venues. For more details on this and contact links, go to http://3.ly/8C8.

Coming Soon – Affordable Consumer LED’s

Scientists at Cambridge University have developed a new LED light,  that one will cost under $10.

This new LED –  smaller than a U.S. penny – will last for 60 years, well beyond the lifespan of standard light bulbs or even compact florescents (CFL’s), and will retail for $3.00 each. 

With the ever-growing popularity of LED lighting – from streetlamps to Christmas decorations to commercial outdoor lighting – a team led by Colin Humphreys has discovered a way to produce white LED’s from gallium nitride. Available for decades, this semiconductor has until now been expensive to produce as it’s grown on wafers of sapphire. Humphreys’ team has found a way to grow it on silicon wafers, for ten times cheaper. 

“We are very close to achieving highly efficient, low-cost white LEDs that 1can take the place of both traditional and currently available low-energy light bulbs,” says Humphreys.

Among this discovery’s many advantages, these energy efficient LED’s will last 100,000 hours, necessitating a change only every 60 years. a breakthrough beyond LED’s previous capabilities for longevity. 

They also don’t contain mercury, as opposed to CFL’s, and will be dimmable, an appealing characteristic to consumers.

Researchers anticipate the first affordable LED’s will be available as early as 2011, though a complete roll-out may take several years longer.

New Facts about CFL’s

CFL’s – they’re everywhere. And advertising encouraging consumers to use them is proliferating.

Yet all is not as it seems. Sure, they save energy. But no matter what the ads say, they STILL have mercury in them. And mercury is by every measure considered hazardous waste.

Now scientists at Yale say eight states “will end up with more local emissions of mercury” – Alaska, California, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The US will see a modest net reduction in emissions; Canada and Mexico slight reductions. Parts of Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe will see the biggest increases.

The report also states “some of the calculations will change if mercury content in CFLs decreases, recycling rates increase, or power plant emissions are reduced.”

So, are CFL’s the REAL answer? Not yet. There are still too many serious health risks to go along with utilities’ and government’s positive spin.

Macy's Sees the "Light"

In today’s news, Macy’s agreed to pay a $49.725 penalty for allegedly mishandling spent compact florescents and other types of light bulbs at 2 of it’s stores in New York state.

They agreed to ensure that their other 75 East Coast stores correct their procedures to avoid repeating this situation.

CFL’s contain mercury. A broken CFL creates a hazardous situation and needs to be dealt with very carefully.

You’d think that after all the efforts made by utilities to educate consumers about the importance of properly handling CFL’s, retailers like Macy’s would know to take precautions from the get-go.

It’s not so difficult to manage. There is packaging specifically made for recycling florescents – both tubes and bulbs. Several companies make them. These special packages have been available for commercial use for years.

So heads up retailers. Do your homework. Don’t put people at risk, especially with something as potentially hazardous as mercury in broken compact florescents. Keeping people safe from these kinds of accidents is as important as recycling, and pretty easy to do right the first time.

Macy’s Sees the “Light”

In today’s news, Macy’s agreed to pay a $49.725 penalty for allegedly mishandling spent compact florescents and other types of light bulbs at 2 of it’s stores in New York state.

They agreed to ensure that their other 75 East Coast stores correct their procedures to avoid repeating this situation.

CFL’s contain mercury. A broken CFL creates a hazardous situation and needs to be dealt with very carefully.

You’d think that after all the efforts made by utilities to educate consumers about the importance of properly handling CFL’s, retailers like Macy’s would know to take precautions from the get-go.

It’s not so difficult to manage. There is packaging specifically made for recycling florescents – both tubes and bulbs. Several companies make them. These special packages have been available for commercial use for years.

So heads up retailers. Do your homework. Don’t put people at risk, especially with something as potentially hazardous as mercury in broken compact florescents. Keeping people safe from these kinds of accidents is as important as recycling, and pretty easy to do right the first time.