There’s no such things as a free lun- er, reduction in harmful greenhouse gases. Those cute little polar bear cubs plastered all over are gonna make us PAY, one way or another. And the latest way in which saving energy has unexpected consequences is in energy-saving compact flourescent lights. Those bulbs, which SDG&E subsidizes at Costco and Al Gore plugged in his movie, are chock-filled with mercury.
We REALLY don’t want mercury in our landfills. It is a nasty poison – that’s why hatters went mad. (Babies and children are especially susceptible to brain damage). It also builds up in the environment and can accumulate at very high levels in top predators – like the extremely tasty yellowtail I saw swimming by La Jolla today.
For these reasons flourescent bulbs count as hazardous waste, and it is illegal to just throw them in the trash – you’re supposed to recycle them. Unfortunately, the only way to do so in San Diego is to make an appointment with the nice folks at the city environmental services, then bring your bulbs in at the appointed time. No walk ins, no drop offs. How many people are going to do that? Only the most frothing enthusiasts – and there are a lot of flourescent bulbs out there these days.
Flourescent bulbs are great – they save huge amounts of electricity – but as always, there is a cost. In order to avoid some big unpleasant problems later, we need to advocate for an easy and effective recycling program. Or maybe just drop your bulbs by the office of your friendly city councilperson…