Posted by: COSI | July 10, 2008

Being Green Can Be Challenging

I’ve been engaged with the environmental movement since the 1970’s. I tapped my engineering/physics background and science education training to write educational curricula, establish what became an 8 year run of a syndicated newspaper column, and then teach courses to the public and educators on what was known at the time about good practices and the science and engineering behind environmentally friendly initiatives.

So I feel like I’m in a timewarp now that a lot of public and global interest is refocused on the realities of our finite resources and the specialness and fragility of this little clump in space called Earth.

Some issues are new ones and I found myself on a quest to answer questions at my house about the merits and practicalities of both using fluorescent lights and safely disposing of them. I thought you might benefit from my research.

Yes, fluorescent bulbs are greatly more efficient than incandescent bulbs (which are actually 95% better at producing wasted heat than effective light). Yes, they do contain mercury—which recently has drawn some attention challenging their use.

So I went to the government web site and found there information that when you look at the lifecycle cost, burning coal to produce the electricity releases more mercury for the extra electricity that a regular light bulb uses over a fluorescent than contained in the fluorescent. But, better yet, the web site (or use a web search) can help you identify companies and ways to recycle the fluorescent bulbs.

So we’re back to converting to new compact fluorescent bulbs!



  1. Living Green doesn’t have to be difficult, in fact– it should be easy! With proper education anyone can be equipped to make green lifestyle decisions, beyond changing lightbulbs. As the director of an educational science center there is an incredible opportunity and incentive to spread the word to your visitors and supporters.
    Keep up the blogging! We’ll look forward to learning more as COSI moves into the Green Century!

  2. I couldn’t agree more. We’ll continue to both challenge ourselves at COSI to better “walk the talk” but to look at the multiple ways in which we interact with the public, children, schools, etc. to help with not only public understanding of the issues and opportunities, but also how everyone can take actions in concert with our understanding of the need and approaches to change.

    Thanks for the encouragement and challenging us to better meet a societal need!

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