This is just my opinion, but CFL bulbs were one of the biggest scams brought over the public. Fully knowing LED technology was just a few years away, we were all told it was imperrative we phase out incandescent bulbs for long lasting, energy saving CFL bulbs. These curly-cue bulbs would save America! But what did we find out? They are destroying the environment!
Not only did the bulbs turn out to last far less then expected(in my shop, about eight months!), but most people found recycling these toxic time bombs too inconvenient and chose instead to throw the dead bulbs out in the trash...by the millions. Lead, mercury, plastics, waferboard, and a myriad of chemicals tossed into the landfills or worse, burned.
These CFL bulbs needed special packaging as well. Over packaging to prevent breakage as they were shipped from China to the USA. Think of the energy needed to produce these bulbs, their packaging, and the worldwide shipping. I dare say the energy savings were paid for in a huge way.
Now, just a few years later, these CFL bulbs are disappearing from the marketplace after people spent millions of dollars on them, to be replaced with LED bulbs, a technology well known to have been just around the corner. We could have waited just a few years for LEDs, and it would have saved us from the toxins of CFLs. But, I suppose, some people got rich selling CFLs.
On every work bench I have a small pail to collect scraps of metal. Aluminum, copper, brass, steel, iron, etc. These bits of metal are salvaged from sockets, lamps, plugs, and anything else that gets worked on. It doesn't sound like much, but after just a few days the pails are full of recyclable metal that would otherwise be tossed in the trash.
When one of the pails is full, the metal is separated into 5-gallon buckets. This step takes but a few minutes, but it saves me a huge hassle at the scrap yard. Handing them a five gallon bucket of pre-sorted metal speeds things along nicely, so I can do it more frequently and avoid having tons of metal around the shop all the time. This alone keeps hundreds of pounds of waste out of the landfills.
Not Too Bad Cap'n !
Along with the metal scraps, all the paper, cardboard, glass, and most of the hard plastic that cannot be reused in the business gets binned and recycled, conveniently collected by the city. How easy is that? The end result of all this recycling? A paltry five gallon pail of trash gets sent out the back door to be collected each month, and some months that small pail isn't even full! As we say here in Maine: "Ain't that somethin'"
This is all of October, 2017's trash!
Since 1986, over 43,000 lamps have been repaired and returned to use by The Lamp Repair Shop. That's a remarkable amount of volume kept out of area landfills. And I am but a one-person repair shop!
So it is possible for a business to become a 'zero waste' facility, but that is a tremendously difficult task to achieve, and I have the utmost respect to any business - or houshold - that achieves that goal. Here at The Lamp Repair Shop, I haven"t quite reached that goal, but I am coming close. Though due dilligence and minor inconvenience I recycle approximately 85% of the waste produced in the day to day operations of the shop.
That's all there is to it!
Did You Know?
Then There Was The Power Drain!
Back when I first moved into my current studio, my electric bill was hundreds of dollars a month, and I quickly realized much of the electric use was wasteful. So I did a study of where the power was going an my eyes were opened!
The first thing I needed to change was the use of those twin, eight-foot florescent lightbulbs being used both in the studio and the basement. I had twenty-four of these light fixtures, each using over 192 watts when on. That was a lot of power being drawn when flipping the switches on. Those were the first to go, and my electric bill plumeted to just over a hundred dollars a month!
But Wait, There's More!
My shop was already full of all these wonderful lighting fixtures, hundreds of them in fact. But they were all burning incandescent light bulbs, which wasted a lot of energy through heat. So I switched them all over to CFL bulbs because they were supposed to offer significant energy savings. However, though I did see a drop in energy useage, the trade-off was an environmental disaster (see side bar at left). So I have now switched out the CFL bulbs with new generation LED bulbs, which not only make my lights shine even more beautifully, my electric bill dropped to $60 a month average. * Now that I can live with!
By the way, I do not use an air conditioner in the shop. This is a 2,500 square foot work space with ten foot ceilings. Dropping the temperature in a space that large requires too much energy for my taste. Besides, this is Maine. We only get a few days of hot weather here, so why chase it away with air conditioning? I'd rather keep a couple of antique fans going for a way cooler breeze.
So the hopper installed in our restroom was put to use about a thousand years ago. It used a whopping five gallons per flush! Needless to say, I didn't want to use that device much. So I made a deal with my leasor: You buy a low-flow unit and I will install it. A win-win for them, and another area where my business helps save the environment. This new one uses a scant 1/2 gallon per flush.
There you go. My committment to the environment: Re-use as much as I can. Recycle nearly everything else. Reduce my consumption of electricity and water. Sometimes the above steps have been inconvenient, but hey, this is the only Earth we have, so we better take care of it.
*Here's the thing about conservaton in a capitalist economy: I have noticed from my public utility bills - where the use of a material product is concerned (water, gas, electric) - the less I use, ultimately the more I pay. Apparently, BigCorp needs to keep their profit margins continually growing on an infinite scale, so if people like me decide to do the right thing for the environment and consume less, BigCorp's profits are threatened, so they need to charge more for delivering less. In my particular case, I have noticed my electric bill has crept back up to nearly a hundred dollars a month even though I am not using any more electricity than normal. In fact, I am using less!
Don't get me wrong. I am not advocating giving up consevation efforts, nor am I running the charge to dismantle capitalism. I am simply stating a fact here: YOU CANNOT HAVE INFINITE GROWTH ON A FINITE PLANET. The concept of infinite growth provides no future for anyone.