Monday, December 17, 2007

Bright Idea, Big Dilemma

The day came earlier than I expected - my first energy efficient light bulb burned out. You know the kind everyone is encouraging you to swap out -the curly bulbs that use less energy and are supposed to burn longer (in fact, they use a third less energy and last ten times longer).

It's said that if every U.S. household replaced just one incandescent bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb, the amount of energy saved could light 2.5 million homes for a year. That's fantastic, I'm all over that!

Unfortunately, those bulbs shouldn't be thrown away because they contain mercury, which is harmful to the environment. Yet the city recycling centers aren't set up to take them. For some reason one of mine burned out sooner than it was supposed to. Now I'm faced with the dilemma of what to do with it.

I found out that the Environmental Protection Agency schedules drop off dates throughout the year, but the next ones will be scheduled in 2008. I will start a little collection of bulbs until I hear of a collection date.

Also, behind the Naperville Fire Station Fire Station #4, 1971 Brookdale Road, there is a drop off facility that is open Saturdays and Sundays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., excluding holidays. If you have questions about the City’s household hazardous waste collection program, please call the Department of Public Works at (630) 420-4190, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.

If you live in Carpentersville, Dundee, Elgin, Gilberts, Hampshire, and South Elgin residents
Residents with Carpentersville, Dundee, Elgin, Gilberts, Hampshire and South Elgin mailing addresses may call the HHW Hotline at 1-800-449-7587 to schedule a free pickup from your home. This service is operated by Curbside, Inc., and is sponsored by Kane County, the City of Elgin, and the Villages of Carpentersville and South Elgin.

These bulbs are so popular now, I'm sure the demand will increase next year for suitable drop off locations for disposing of the bulbs and it will get easier to dispose of them. Meanwhile, I know it's tempting to throw them away instead of bothering with proper disposal but hold onto your bulbs!


  1. Thanks for this info! I had one of these bulbs that burned out after three weeks! I'm sure it was a defect so I was trying to contact the manufacturer for replacement. It has been sitting on my dresser for months because Sylvania is not able to take my phone call after 6:00PM M-F. I had no idea they contained Mercury! We have several of these bulbs. We're pretty energy conscious anyway so I have not really tried to see if they've made a difference on our utility bill.

  2. Dan, thanks for your comment - it never occured to me that maybe my bulb is defective. I only used it for a few months. I wonder if we could take the bulbs back to the store where we purchased them...that is, if I could remember where I got it or find my receipt! I'm sure it's long gone.

    It'll be hard to tell what effect it has on the utility bill, I guess we have to take their word for it.