It’s holiday time again, which means you’re probably going to buy at least one gift for someone, as well as items for celebrations and holiday meals. You may wish to consult Consumer Reports Greener Choices web site, which provides information to help choose more environmentally friendly products. Articles and “green ratings” are available for the following product categories: Appliances, Cars, Electronics, Food & Beverages, and Home & Garden. Within these sections, you’ll find links to articles, information on conservation of resources (such as energy, water, fuel, etc.), resources for shopping greener, and information on recycling and disposal. The “Hot Topics & Solutions” section of the site includes the Eco-labels Center (which helps you interpret what product labels really mean), the Electronics Recycling Center, the Global Warming Solutions Center, and sections on Energy, Water, and Waste.
The “Toolkit” section includes calculators to help save energy, water, and money, as well as a Toxics Search tool to find out whether there’s a potential for exposure while using a particular product, and how that can affect your health. The “Community” section of the site includes links to Consumers Union campaigns, forums and resources for further information, as well as blogs on cars, food safety, green homes, and safety.
While we’re on the subject of energy efficient light bulbs, note that Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, is currently offering instant cash-back rewards on select Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs. The promotion began on October 1, and while supplies last, Wisconsin residents can buy the CFLs for as little as $0.99. For more information on participating retailers, contact Focus on Energy at 800-762-7077 or see the campaign web page. The campaign site also includes a nice little calculator to estimate your yearly savings based upon the number of standard bulbs you replace with CFLs.
If you’re concerned about mercury content in CFLs, Focus on Energy also has a helpful publication entitled “The Facts About Mercury in CFLs” that could convince you the benefits of CFL use outweigh the risks. This fact sheet includes a chart that compares the mercury content of CFLs to that of other common household products, such as float switches in sump pumps and watch batteries. Proper disposal and cleanup of broken CFLs are also covered.
On October 3, 2007, U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson kicked off a 10-city, 20-day Energy Star Change-a-Light Bus Tour at Disneyland. EPA and the Department of Energy are sponsoring the tour to raise awareness of the benefits of energy efficient lighting choices. At each tour stop, an outdoor education center will be set up with interactive displays on the importance of our lighting choices, how to use and dispose of compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) responsibly, and the connection between our personal energy use and our climate. According to EPA, Energy Star qualified light bulbs use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs, and last six to ten times longer. See the Change-a-Light Bus Tour web site for the dates and locations of all stops along the tour. Note that the tour stops in three cities in the Great Lakes region: Chicago on Oct. 12-13, Indianapolis on Oct. 14, and New York City on Oct. 23. The web site also includes a video message from Administrator Johnson, a photo gallery, a podcast interview with Wendy Reed, Campaign Manager for Energy Star, and a link to information on the Energy Star Change-a-Light, Change the World pledge site.