Thursday, February 15, 2007


Shrink Your Ecological Footprint

Ann Covalt has sent in this article from the March 12, 2006, issue of The Washington Post, written by Bridget Bentz Sizer. I've added the hotlinks.

Question: How many years does it take an environmentalist to change a light bulb? Answer: Seven, but only if he's using energy-efficient compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Though slightly more expensive, low-mercury CFL bulbs use less energy and last longer than standard light bulbs. Replace four standard bulbs with the CFL ones, and you'll prevent the emission of 5,000 pounds of carbon dioxide over the life of the bulbs, according to the Center for the New American Dream. The center, which has a "Turn the Tide" campaign (, also estimates that you'll save $100 on your energy bill over the same time period. Though consumers complained of the harsh quality of early CFL bulbs, more recent models have softened the light. A 25-watt CFL bulb emits the same amount of light as a standard 100-watt bulb. And these days, CFL bulbs are sold almost everywhere standard light bulbs are sold.

Comedienne Lily Tomlin tells a story about buying a wastebasket: "The cashier put it in a bag. I brought it home. I took it out of the bag. I crumpled up the bag and tossed it in the wastebasket." The joke works because of its absurdity -- Tomlin generates trash even as she buys a receptacle for the trash -- but also because it taps into a larger truth; each year Americans use an estimated 100 billion plastic shopping bags., a Web site dedicated to reducing the use of disposable shopping bags, estimates that most plastic shopping bags wind up in landfills, where they take 1,000 years to decompose. So next time you're at the grocery store, consider bagging your goods in reusable canvas bags instead of paper or plastic. If you currently bring home 10 grocery bags each week that's a saving of 520 plastic bags each year.

Arsenic, mercury and lead are the kinds of toxins that lead to emergency phone calls to the poison control hotline, but did you know that they might also be in your old cell phone? The EPA estimates that 700 million cell phones containing 250,000 tons of toxic waste already have been discarded in American landfills. Next time you get a new cell phone, try donating your old one instead of tossing it. The National Zoo has partnered with Eco-Cell, a nonprofit based in Louisville, Ken., to collect visitors' unwanted cell phones, batteries and accessories. Eco-Cell will donate up to $15 to the Friends of the National Zoo for every working cell phone collected -- working phones will be refurbished and passed on to low-income people, while "dead" phones will be recycled according to EPA guidelines. Not planning a trip to the zoo? Call Eco-Cell at 888- 326-3357 or visit their Web site ( to learn how to donate a phone.

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

Other points made in this article:

  1. Get rid of stuff by giving it away via Freecycle (Freecycle DC is at ). The Freecycle Network is an international collection of free listservs aimed at reducing landfill waste by making one person’s trash another person’s treasure.
  2. Get rid of junk mail. A good place to start is by contacting the Direct Marketing Association to request that your name be placed on a “do-not-mail” file.
  3. Visit the Green Guide ( to find environmentally friendly cleaning products.
  4. Replace four standard bulbs with compact fluorescents, and you’ll prevent the emission of 5,000 pounds of carbon dioxide over the life of the bulbs, along with $100 on your energy bill.
  5. Eliminate 20 miles of extra driving a week, by using public transport, consolidating errands, etc., to eliminate nearly 1,000 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
  6. Skip the screensaver, which is actually an energy waster. Instead set your computer to “sleep mode” so that the screen goes blank when not in use. Or better yet, turn off your monitor. “Smith University estimates that 30 monitors set to sleep mode represent a reduction in emissions and energy consumption equal to taking one car off the road.”

I have been in the lighting business for 20 years and have witnessed the evolution of the CFL. What I have found that the key to liking the light is directly associated to the brand bulb you buy. It is all about color temperature. Some brands cast a “white” light that is not easy on the eyes - what you want to look for are bulbs that truly produce 2700K.

We sell nearly every brand out there but I can absolutely say that what you want in your house is TCP brand. TCP is the largest producer of CFL’s in the world and from our experience as a distributor; we believe they are the closest to producing true 2700K. Whether you buy them from us is your choice but it makes me sick when I go into someone’s house and their yellow walls turned green - simply because of the color temp that the CFL produce.

Another option is Cold Cathode technology. These are lower wattage bulbs that produce a nice yellow light and come in a variety of designs. They work great in lamps that you want to leave on all the time. I have them in lamps in our house and they never go off… and I can unscrew them at any point with our burning my hand. They take a while to warm up but they are great for the environment and they cast a good light. Here is a link if you want to check them out.

We all want everyone to convert to CFL’s or LED’s or even the newest technology Cold Cathode Lamps BUT we all need to have a good experience when we plug them in AND actually like the light output. If any of you need or want to learn more go to then click the home icon in the center of the page - we have put some pretty informative stuff on there, even a energy savings calculator.

I know that this sounds like I am selling BUT I want everyone to have a good experience with a conversion to low wattage CFL’s whether or not they buy them from SOS is really up to you. I think Home Depot is carrying a decent line of CFL’s that we have tested if you would prefer to buy them there. What is ultimately important is that we all try to conserve where we can and be less dependant on power companies to produce more and more energy through environmentally unfriendly means such as coal plants.
Just thought I'd clue the group in on this post. It came to me as moderator. While it is from a commercial vendor, I thought the information was useful. I checked out the company; it's a small, woman-owned Texas company that provides lights by mail. They have recommendations from a number of users - especially in the theater community. So, as an amateur actor, I decided to go with it. Hope you don't mind.
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