A story running in tomorrow’s Chicago Tribune explains the new controversy surrounding Compact Florescent or CFL bulbs. CFL bulbs contain small amounts of mercury, a problem the venerable incandescent bulb doesn’t have. Adding to the fray is CFL bulbs are more helpful to the environment that incandescent bulbs because they operate at 18 watts, as opposed to the 40-150 watt varieties commonly seen in the nation’s retail stores.
Environmental benefits, yes. However, the main problem is disposal. With other nations phasing incandescent bulbs out, the United States may not be ready to deal with the environmental impact of disposal. CFLs are classified in most localities as “household hazardous waste.” Nevertheless industrial leaders, politicians, and environmentalists have a broad coalition to bring CFLs into homes to reduce energy consumption, and more importantly cut back on emissions, that other nations charge the United States of producing.
Locally, Larry Rice, president of KNLC-TV, and the New Life Evangelistic Center has pushing this type of bulb in low-income housing throughout the area, and the state.
There is one in my household, and if you look at the left hand side of the blog, you’ll see a banner that tracks the sales of CFLs in the St. Louis metropolitan area. My household does plan to convert complete over to these by the end of the year. I don’t drive, so I’m lessening my impact on the environment even more than I do already.
“Like many things, a compact fluorescent isn’t perfect,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center. “But they’re far better than the alternative. They’re a good deal for your pocketbook and a good deal for the environment.”