Let There Be Light on the New Bulb Law

Article by Jonelle Kimbrough, Fort Bragg Environmental Management

The New Year ushered in new resolutions, as usual. But, the arrival of 2014 also ushered in a new regulation on a common consumer product: the light bulb. As of January 1, new federal standards prohibited the manufacture and import of 40-watt and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs – the most common bulbs used to illuminate homes across America. Although some opponents of the law have doubted the need for and viability of the regulation, supporters have claimed that the mandates do have some merit. And, when all is considered, the benefits of the new alternatives to the incandescent bulb often eclipse the disadvantages.

Compact fluorescent bulb - resting on blue background

The legislation that regulates the manufacture and import of the traditional incandescent bulb is part of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), which was signed into law by former President George W. Bush in 2007. EISA is designed to decrease American dependence on foreign sources of energy, increase our energy independence and security, protect consumers and enhance the efficiency of consumer products, facilities and vehicles.

Contrary to popular concerns surrounding the law, EISA neither bans incandescent bulbs nor demands the use of certain alternative bulbs.  Consumers will not be required to immediately discard existing incandescent bulbs, and they will not be required to replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs). Instead, EISA requires newly manufactured bulbs to consume 30 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and to produce at least 20 lumens of light per watt of power consumed. The average incandescent bulb converts only five to ten percent of the power it consumes into light and produces only 15 lumens of light per watt of power consumed, so the technology that has served as the industry standard for 134 years is essentially obsolete.

Traditional incandescent bulbs will still be available for sale and purchase until the current supply is exhausted. Certain incandescent bulbs including colored bulbs, candelabra-base bulbs and specialty bulbs such as those used in refrigerators and incubators are exempt from the law.

Although consumers will not be forced to use CFLs or LEDs, there are many advantages to replacing incandescent bulbs with their more efficient counterparts. Watt for watt and lumen for lumen, CFLs and LEDs consume less energy and boast longer life spans than incandescent bulbs. According to the United States Department of Energy, a standard 60-watt incandescent bulb produces 13 to 15 lumens per watt (LPW) of power consumed whereas a comparable 15-watt CFL produces 53 to 63 LPW. A comparable 8-watt LED is even more efficient, producing 70 to 100 LPW. The average 60-watt incandescent bulb lasts for 1,200 hours while a comparable CFL lasts for 10,000 hours and a comparable LED lasts for 50,000 hours. Considering the cost of use and the cost of replacement, CFLs and LEDs will ultimately conserve fiscal resources as well. Energy efficient bulbs can save $40 to $135 in utility costs every year, per the Environmental Protection Agency.

Although they carry many advantages, CFLs and LEDs do have some detriments. CFLs contain trace amounts of mercury. The mercury content in most Energy Star rated CFLs is regulated and minimal, though, and it should not pose a threat to the environment or to public health if the bulbs are handled and recycled properly. CFLs do not achieve immediate full illumination, and they can be susceptible to humidity. They are also initially more expensive than incandescent bulbs. While a standard incandescent bulb costs about $0.50, a comparable CFL costs about $3. LEDs are perhaps the most environmentally sound and most expedient alternatives since they contain no mercury and provide instant full illumination. Additionally, they are more durable than incandescent bulbs or CFLs. However, since each LED bulb costs an average of $10 to $30, they are also the most expensive alternatives to the incandescent bulb. Despite these concerns, new technologies and increased demands will lessen the environmental impacts, public health concerns and initial costs tied to CFLs and LEDs, and in the end, their minimal power consumption and their impressive life spans will create a significant return on investment.

Energy efficient light bulbs will contribute to a decrease in America’s energy consumption as these alternatives become the standards for home illumination. As we decrease our energy consumption, we will also decrease our utility costs and decrease the environmental pollution associated with energy production. Furthermore, we will decrease our demand for finite and foreign sources of energy, and we will eventually reach our goals of energy independence and security.

For more information on energy efficient light bulbs, visit the Consumer Reports Light Bulb Buying Guide.

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Season’s Greenings

Article from Fort Bragg Environmental Management

The holiday season is a season to celebrate … to reflect on the waning year and look forward to the year ahead … to enjoy special moments with families and friends. Yet, the holiday season can also be a season to be conscious of the environment. You don’t have to be The Grinch Who Stole Christmas to be GREEN! You can be green by incorporating some sustainable practices into your holiday traditions.

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BRIGHT IDEAS

  • To light your home for the holidays and conserve energy, use energy efficient light emitting diode (LED) lights. LED lights consume 80 to 90 percent less energy than conventional incandescent holiday lights and can save electric costs during the season. To light a Christmas tree for 12 hours each day for 40 days, one would spend an average of $25.13 with incandescent lights but only $0.56 with LED lights. In addition, LED lights have a lifespan of 200,000 hours whereas incandescent lights have a lifespan of only 3,000 hours. LED lights are affordable and available in a variety of styles and colors, and they are available at most major retailers.
  • Power down your light display during daylight hours. Always extinguish your lights when you are not at home and when you retire for the night.

DUTIFUL DECORATIONS

  • Adorn your home with natural, biodegradable items such as fresh flowers, dried herbs, fruits, pine boughs, pine cones and berries.
  • Create your own ornaments and decorations with reclaimed materials.
  • Reuse ornaments and decorations every year.
  • If possible, choose recyclable ornaments and decorations.
  • Use soy candles instead of paraffin candles. Paraffin candles are petroleum-based and can emit chemicals when burned.

WRAPPERS’ DELIGHTS

  • The waste generated in the United States increases by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, and one of the largest sources of waste during the holidays is discarded wrapping paper. In fact, half of the paper consumed in America is used to wrap or decorate consumer products. This year, choose recyclable wrapping paper or paper that is manufactured from recycled content.
  • Reclaimed paper from maps, calendars, newspapers and magazines can be economical and sustainable alternatives to traditional wrapping paper.
  • Be creative and think outside the roll. Reusable materials such as glass jars, tin boxes and colorful fabrics can also create unique presentations. Consider natural materials such as raffia, dried fruits, cinnamon sticks, holly, berries and pine boughs to trim your presents.

GREEN EVERGREENS

  • Live Christmas trees are generally more sustainable than artificial Christmas trees. However, live Christmas trees can be cultivated with chemical pesticides, fertilizers and colorants. Consider a locally-harvested, organic Christmas tree.
  • Every year, 50 million Christmas trees are purchased in North America, and nearly 30 million of those trees are discarded as trash. Live Christmas trees should be recycled. For residents of Fort Bragg housing, Corvias Military Living will offer a tree collection from December 26 until January 17. Residents may contact their community centers for more information. The Fort Bragg Landfill will also accept Christmas trees for recycling after December 26. Call 396.6873 or 432.0295 for details.

 GIFTS THAT GIVE BACK

  • There are many options for festive but sustainable holiday presents. Consider “green” gifts.
  • Give an experience such as movie tickets or passes to a local museum.
  • Americans send over three billion greeting cards during the holiday season, so to reduce the paper waste, send your holiday greetings and party invitations electronically. If you prefer traditional greeting cards, choose cards printed on recycled paper. Recycle your cards after the holidays.

ENVIRONMENTALLY PREFERRED PARTIES

  • Choose local and organic foods.
  • Use reusable plates, glasses and utensils instead of disposable products. If you must use disposable products, choose environmentally preferred materials made from recycled content or materials that are recyclable, compostable or biodegradable. Avoid Styrofoam products.

RESOLUTIONS TO REDUCE, REUSE AND RECYCLE

  • Common holiday wastes including electronics and waste vegetable oil are recyclable at the Fort Bragg Recycling Center. The Fort Bragg Recycling Center is located on the corner of Butner Road and Reilly Road, across from the Fort Bragg Veterinary Clinic and just prior to the entrance to Pope Army Airfield. Hours are Monday through Friday from 0730 until 1600. Call 432.6412 for more information.
  • Nearly 40 percent of all battery sales occur during the holiday season. Choose rechargeable batteries to reduce waste.
  • If you receive a gift that you cannot use, donate it to charity. Or, regift it wisely.

SUSTAINABLE GIFT IDEAS AND OTHER IDEAS FOR A GREEN HOLIDAY …

Uncommon Goods and Recycled Gifts

The Tree Hugger Green Gift Guide

100 Green Gifts

Green Gift Ideas from the Natural Resources Defense Council

Eco-Friendly Gifts

Green America’s Holiday Gift Guide

Green Gifts from The Huffington Post

Creating a Green Christmas

How to Have a Green Christmas

Sustainable Decorations on Pinterest

Be Thankful, Be Green

Article from Fort Bragg Environmental Management

Thanksgiving is a time of celebration … a time when families and friends come together for fun, fellowship and FOOD!

Thanksgiving Dinner

Did you know that you can host a fabulous Thanksgiving and be sustainable, too?

Sustainable Fort Bragg would like to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and share some ideas for turning your holiday meal into an environmentally friendly feast.

– Purchase seasonal, locally harvested foods and locally raised meats for your meal. Locally produced foods are often fresher and more flavorful. In addition, they support the area economy and regional farmers.

– Incorporate certified organic and minimally processed foods into your meal. Look for the USDA Organic Seal.

– The average American family discards 25 percent of all food prepared on Thanksgiving, so plan your meal wisely to minimize waste.

– Use environmentally-preferred and biobased cleansers to ready your home for your guests.

– Lower the setting on your thermostat. The oven and your holiday guests will provide plenty of warmth!

– Use reusable baking dishes, plates, glasses and cloth napkins rather than plastic, paper, Styrofoam or other disposable options. If you must use disposable items, then choose compostable, biodegradable or recyclable options and dispose of them sustainably.

– Conserve energy by preparing dishes in the microwave or on the range instead of in the oven whenever possible. If you prefer to use the oven, dishes that can be prepared at the same temperature may be placed in the oven together to save time and power.

– Adorn your table with natural materials. Fresh flowers, dried herbs, leaves, berries and pinecones are festive, sustainable and economical decorations. You can probably find these materials in your own yard, and they are biodegradable.

– Choose soy or vegetable based candles instead of paraffin candles. Paraffin candles are petroleum-based, and they can emit chemicals that diminish indoor air quality.

– If food remains following your meal, send a plate with each of your guests or incorporate it into other recipes.

– Wash only full loads of dishes to save energy and water.

– Recycle as much as possible. Remember: plastics, aluminum cans, steel cans, glass and paperboard boxes are all recyclable. If your community recycling program does not accept glass, you can recycle it at the Fort Bragg Recycling Center. The Fort Bragg Recycling Center is located on the northwest corner of Butner Road and Reilly Road in the Directorate of Public Works campus. The entrance is off Reilly Road, across from the veterinary clinic and just prior to Pope Army Airfield. Hours are Monday through Friday, 0730 to 1600.

– Dispose of your waste vegetable oil properly. Pour it into a sealed container and place the container in your household refuse, or recycle it at the Fort Bragg Recycling Center. Never pour vegetable oil into a drain!

– If you live off post, consider composting your vegetable scraps.

Here are more ideas for a green Thanksgiving …

How to Go Green on Thanksgiving Day

A Greener Thanksgiving

Your Guide to a Green Thanksgiving

Tips for a Green Thanksgiving

Action Tips: Have a Green Thanksgiving

Recipes for Thanksgiving Leftovers from The Food Network

12 Creative Turkey Sandwich Recipes

Makeovers for Thanksgiving Leftovers

16 Recipes for Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving: Round Two

Reduce Monstrous Utility Bills by Conserving Energy

Article from Fort Bragg Environmental Management

Are your utility bills monstrous? Frightening? Terrifying?
If so, you may be an energy zombie! Stop your mindless consumption of power with these Halloween inspired ideas!

Dracula on an iPhone

Beware of energy vampires. No … Dracula did not recently wire his castle in Transylvania for electricity. Energy vampires are devices that consume electricity even when they are powered down, and they can drain up to $200 from your wallet every year. The average home has 20 of these evil gizmos. Electronic chargers, appliances with continuous digital displays, computers and home entertainment systems can all contribute to phantom power loss. To slay these villains, pull their plugs when they are not in use. Choose energy efficient electronics and appliances, too.

Are you feeling cold spots in your home? Are your curtains and doors moving inexplicably? Are you hearing disembodied moans? You probably won’t experience a visit from Beetlejuice (unless you said his name three times), but you may have air leaks. Inspect your doors and windows for air leaks and seal any leaks promptly. Professionally service your climate control system, and change your air filters to prepare for a more efficient heating season. Autumn is a perfect time to plan ahead for sustainable emergency heating as well.

Emulate a mummy and wrap up when temperatures fall. Or, as Imhotep would say, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the sarcophagus.” Dress for weather conditions instead of raising or lowering the thermostat. Wear light layers to adapt to the often unpredictable fall climate, and always carry appropriate gear for inclement weather.

You don’t have to ride a broom to be as environmentally friendly as the Wicked Witch of the West, but you can take a cue from her and consider alternative transportation. Walk or cycle to your destination. Carpool with your colleagues, or use mass transit options when and where they are available. Call 396.1992 for information on the Fort Bragg Shuttle.

Steps to a Spooky and Sustainable Halloween

Press release from Fort Bragg Environmental Management

Green leaves are turning to shades of crimson and amber. Evenings are growing crisp and cool. Jack-o-lanterns are appearing on front porches. Halloween is near.

Amber Leaf

The joys of Halloween are exciting. They also create monstrous financial and environmental impacts. Halloween is a $6 billion industry. Consumers buy 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins every year – 99 percent of which are discarded in trash. Abandoned Halloween costumes create 6,500 tons of waste each year. You can enjoy a ghastly but green Halloween with simple and sustainable steps.
• Buy decorations that may be used year after year to prevent frightening amounts of waste.
• Create your own devilish decorations from recycled materials such as ghosts from bed sheets.
• Purchase your petrifying pumpkin from a local farm or nursery. Choose an organic gourd if one is available.
• Conquer the fear of Halloween utility bills by choosing Light Emitting Diode (LED) lighting. LED lights last 133 times longer and cost 80 percent less to operate than incandescent lights. They are also safer because they generate less heat than traditional bulbs. If you use lights in your Halloween display, be sure to power them down during daylight hours and when you go to bed for the night to save electricity.
• Candles can create ambiance but can also emit gruesome volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Choose soy based or vegetable based candles instead of petroleum based paraffin candles. Paraffin candles can release chemicals such as toluene and benzene. Prolonged contact with these chemicals is associated with health concerns such as asthma and cancer.
• Indulge your boys and ghouls with sustainable treats. Fill your candy bowl with healthier choices such as Fair Trade sourced chocolates and natural or organic candies. Consider items such as dried fruits and pumpkin seeds. Children will also appreciate alternatives to candies and foods including school supplies such as soy crayons and seed paper bookmarks or toys such as recycled paper playing cards or puzzles. Use reusable containers instead of plastic bags to carry your loot.
• Trick or treating? Visiting a haunted house? Walk to your destination or arrange a Halloween carpool to reduce eerie emissions and to reduce traffic. You will create a safer experience for the witches and warlocks.
• Create a costume from recycled clothing and materials. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) lurks in many commercial Halloween costumes. PVC can release detrimental VOCs. Raid your closets and visit vintage clothing shops for treasure troves of potential recycled costumes, or consider a costume trade with friends to save resources and money.
• Cosmetics can create wonderful werewolves and grotesque goblins but the chemicals in many Halloween cosmetics can be truly terrifying. Choose biobased options and cosmetics colored with natural dyes.
• Halloween parties can also be eek-o-friendly. Send your invitations electronically. Plan a healthy menu. Buy local and organic foods for your guests. Use reusable service ware instead of disposable service ware or choose recyclable and compostable items. Provide access to recycling.

For more ideas, visit Green Halloween.