Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Compact Fluorescents - Friend or Foe?

In Australia, the federal government is planning to phase out incandescent globes in the next couple of years and only have compact fluorescent bulbs available. The main aim of the program is to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse emissions. This is commendable.

However, there was a story last night on the ABC's 730 Report about compact fluorescent light bulbs - click here for the transcript. Apparently, the compact fluorescent globes contain minute amounts of mercury which can cause significant issues if they go to landfill. They can also cause a problem for children or pregnant women if the globes break and the contents are inhaled. The way it was presented in the report strongly suggested that the compact fluorescents were causing another environmental issue.

Looking at the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) website today, I found another article on the globes - click here. The ACF are saying that while the globes do contain mercury, their advantages outweigh their disadvantages.

What both reports have in common is that they are calling for government-controlled recycling programs for the bulbs. The ACF give a link to the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts which discusses how to dispose of the bulbs, what to do if they should break and collection sites for your state/territory.

We, like many others, have embraced this new technology. Now I'm feeling not so sure about it. Should we return to lanterns and candles for our lighting? Go solar? Should we simply go to bed when it gets dark? Maybe get some glow worms? All suggestions welcome.

love and light
naturewitch

5 comments:

molly said...

Hi NW, good article. America is actually ahead of us in this, they are now starting to provide recycling centres for the CFL globes, hopefully we will do the same in aussie soon!

Blessings:)

Cheryl said...

Hi Naturewitch....we have gloworms in the garden, I don't think they will be bright enought...lol

We personally have been using low energy light bulbs for five years now.......we have not had to change any bulbs yet and have had no breakages......my daughter was pregnany twice during the five years.........I had read recently about the mercury thing, but aren't we constantly overcomplicating everything. I think you have to decide for yourself and go with it.....

Living in the country we have no lighting on the roads or lanes....we have a couple of lights in the garden (low energy) and I turn lights off if we are not in that room.....
Let me know what you decide, I am interested.

Also tku for the nettle thing a few posts ago.....I have spoken to a herbalist and now take nettle as a drink and it has improved some problems that I have. Without your post I would not have known, I am grateful to you..........

naturewitch said...

Hi Molly - thanks for that; I certainly hope we do get recycling centres soon.

Hi Cheryl - we have mostly been using the compact fluorescents for about 3 years now. We too haven't had a breakage. I just worry about the net effect of the mercury, but as you say, maybe we are just overcomplicating things.
Glad the nettle is working for you - nature is so amazing at giving us just what we need.

xx

Cheryl said...

Hi Naturewitch.....tks for all the info on mystery plant....helenium autumn lollipops looks similar....I have emailed somebody and they are going to look at my blog and get in touch....so we shall see.....

flmom said...

We use CFL's, but the mercury issue definitely bothers me. Until recently, the only place we had locally to recyle them safely was approximately a 35 mile drive away (so about 70 miles roundtrip) - not an attractive thought with current gas prices. I read in the past week, however, that Home Depot stores here in the U.S. have started accepting them at their stores for recycling. This is wonderful news (especially since we pass 2 stores when we do our shopping errands). There are also very specific "rules" for how to clean up one that breaks in your home. I know there is a site that explains in detail what to do, but I cannot think of the link/name at the moment. I do remember the first thing you are to do is turn off any heat or a/c that is running, open all the windows, and go outside for at least 15 minutes.