Tag Archives: green

Switching to compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs)

We have been using regular, old-fashioned, 60-watt incandescent lightbulbs in our house.
Incandescent light bulb

Incandescent lightbulb

 But compact fluorescent lightbulbs, or CFLs, are a quick and easy way to reduce your energy consumption. CFLs are four times more efficient and last up to ten times longer than incandescents, according to Earth Easy, an environmental blog.

They are cheaper, and they give off a softer light than incandescent bulb.

We’ve tried them at my house. I personally like them. Besides the warm fuzzy feeling I get from burning less energy, they give a soft, dimmer light when you first turn them on. That’s great for people like me who can’t stand to wake up and turn on a jarringly bright light in the morning. And in a couple of minutes, they are at their full brightness.

My mom doesn’t like the slow brightening. It annoys her, but she can’t explain why… 🙂 My dad got worried about the mercury inside them, and took them all out! 

CFL (the green choice)

CFL (the green choice)

CFLs contain small amounts of mercury inside. It’s very small, but the light bulbs are made of glass, and therefore, they can break. If you handle them carefully, that shouldn’t ever happen. But if it does, don’t panic, because you can clean it up at home (and you don’t need a hazmat suit).

I let my dad know, and he said he’d consider putting them back in, but he doesn’t seem to convinced yet.

He may not have much of a choice. The Energy Independence and Security Act, signed in 2007, will force us all to have more energy efficient bulbs in 2012!

Home Depot is already on board: If you look at the lightbulb categories, there are nine incandescent options and 99 fluorescent!

In the meantime, I’ve also been using IKEA’s low-energy SPARSAM bulbs on two lamps I purchased from the Swedish behemoth. They’re cute and seem virtually impossible to break. They two have the slow brightening effect–something I’m not sure my mother will warm up to anytime soon.



Filed under Energy Use

Sustainability is Sexy reusable coffee cups

About a month ago, I blogged about plastic water bottles and mentioned how wasteful disposable coffee cups are.

Nicholas Fusso runs the Seattle-based organization Sustainability is Sexy, which focuses on eco-ideas for coffee, and he left me a comment about the polyethylene coating on disposable cups, which leaves them sitting in landfills.

His organization, Sustainability is Sexy, started as an eco-project at the University of Washington. Fusso told me in an e-mail that using disposable coffee cups is a big environmental no-no. But reusabe coffee cups, he said, can help you go “green” in more ways than one.

“They impact our planet’s ecosystem in a positive way by conserving natural resources and greenhouse gas emissions,” Fusso said. “Reusable cups also save businesses money, and can often save you money too.”

Plus, he said, reusable cups help preserve the temperature and flavor of your beverage.

SIS sells biodegradable cups made out of corn-based plastic, which Fusso said is more environmentally friendly than most reusable cups.


“The cup is compostable, which eliminates the tiny amount of garbage created by when other reusable cups are finally thrown away,” he said.  “The cup is made using corn – a much lighter eco-footprint than stainless steel or plastic.”

Fusso sent me one of the SIS cups to try. Though the colors reminded me a little of John Deere, I like them. They’re bold, and they they definitely convey the message about going green. And here’s an added bonus–it’s really hard to misplace your bright green coffee cup somewhere.

Anyway, the cup is lightweight, which makes it easy to carry, yet much stronger than a flimsy disposable cup. When I handed it to a Starbucks barista to fill up, she said, “Ooh I love it!” Looks like the message is one that people definitely identify with.

(Side note, Starbucks is selling a line of travel coffee cups that they say are eco-friendly because they use “less plastic.” That may be true, but I like knowing that when mine is thrown away years and years from now, it won’t wreak havoc on the environment.)

Sustainability is Sexy sells the resuable coffee cups, T-shirts and other merchandise on their Web site. For more  on the environment and coffee, check out the Sustainability is Sexy blog.

Fusso also blogs about politics, economics, and the environment at  Smart Sense.

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Filed under Reusable