lights out: disposing of your CFLs…

when you bought your compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), you did the right thing. but did you know that these energy-saving helpers contain mercury? so it is very important that you dispose of them properly…and that means not in the bin!

here’s what you can do:

  • check to see if your curbside recycling accepts products with mercury. if they don’t, suggest that they do
  • contact your local municipality to find out whether there are CFL drop centers or collection dates. if they don’t exist, request that they create some and ask how you can safely dispose of mercury and fluorescent materials
  • home depot and ikea will take your old bulbs (ikea will only take their own)
  • ironically, walmart has proven to be very responsive to consumer pressure to adopt green behaviors. contact them and tell them you would like them to begin CFL drop centers
  • and finally, earth911.com is a fantastic resource for all things recyclable – i got many options when i entered my zip code. if your friends don’t have these facilities nearby, you could gather up everyone’s old bulbs and take them over in one trip
  • if none of these are an option, the best thing to do is store them until a proper program is available to you. as long as they are not broken, the mercury will stay safely inside. place them inside a plastic bin or a cardboard box lined with a plastic bin liner. put them somewhere where they won’t risk being broken

the success of CFLs with consumers could potentially be their downfall. according to lighterfootstep.com,  90% of all CFLs ended up in landfills in 2009 – much of the information above came from their article, “five ways to dispose of old CFLs“. you can also join their “CFL recycling challenge” – as much as we all came together to understand and use CFLs, that same collective spirit will have to join to get CFL recycling available to everyone.

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