Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

So today is Blog Action Day, and I am a very staunch supporter of environmental issues and living green. I have been trying to make changes in my lifestyle so that I have a smaller footprint on Mother Earth. My dilemma was, that although I wanted to participate in blog action day and blog about environmental issues, I really wanted all of my posts this month to be about Halloween and all things spooky. What was I to do? And then I saw them on a shelf in a Halloween store... the answer to my dilemma!!!

We all know by now about how much energy you can save by using the CFL lightbulbs as opposed to the regular incandescent type. They use a fraction of the energy, they last for something like 9 years. So... although you spend a lot to get them initially, you save money in the long run. I invested in my first CFL bulbs earlier this year when a local hardware store was giving away a free bulb to the first 100 (or so... I can't remember) customers on Earth Day. I took the opportunity to buy a four pack of the very same bulbs which were on sale at a substantial savings at the time. That would give me 5 which would take care of all of the "normal" overhead lighting in my house. I also bought two of the globe shaped bulbs to put in the "bare bulb sockets" in the basement ceiling on the unfinished side. I had initially planned on getting the globe bulbs to replace the four in each of the two bathrooms upstairs, but the ones down in the basement take almost five minutes to get up to full strength, so I have to do some more research on that frontier.

What, pray tell, does ANY of this have to do with Halloween? Well, let me just tell you!!! You can now buy CFL party lights and black lights. Yup... put on your Halloween Haunted House AND save on your electric bill and energy footprint all at the same time!!! Now I have to admit that I have a box full of specialty lighting for Halloween up in the closet, and I am not about to chuck it all and buy the new CFL bulbs all at once. However, as my bulbs burn out, I will replace them with the CFL bulbs!!! You see... I replace every overhead light fixture in the house (except the basement) with red party lights for Halloween. The outside lighting on the porch and above the garage are black lights. The light by the back door is either an orange party light, or a black light, depending on my mood that year. I also put a lamp with a bare black light exposed behind the shades in the upstairs bedrooms so that those windows glow purple and you can see the bat silhouettes that are taped to each window. So that is a lot of bulbs to replace! But slowly, it will be done. This post is primarily for those of you who are just starting out to spookify your dwelling.

A few things to take into consideration. CFL bulbs do contain a small amount of mercury in the bulbs and require special disposal methods. You can't just chuck them in the trash. With any luck, your first bulb won't burn out for 9 years, though! The best solution I have read was a woman who bought a medium sized sturdy plastic box which she filled partially with sand (or clean kitty litter) and placed on a shelf in her garage. When a bulb burned out, she nestled it in the sand to protect it from breakage and when the box was full she contacted her local hazardous waste site for disposal options. I also remember reading that places that take batteries should also take the CFL bulbs, so you could put those used batteries in that box too, instead of chucking them in the landfill like you were doing. Yeah... I know you were!!! But you won't if you have a toxic waste box in your garage! (And just think of all the great decorations you could put on the outside of that box!!! [evil grin]) The other concern is that these bulbs are fragile, so if you are storing them from holiday to holiday, you have to be careful in your packing.

Another green solution to the party lights is the new LED party lights. They even have some that you can have changing from color to color, or set on one color. I have to look into those more before I make any final desicions, though. I'm not sure how much light they put out, and as I am lighting my entire house this way, I have to be careful!

Don't just listen to me, though. Get out there and do your own research. And keep in mind that the standard florescent tube black lights are also green! Pull them out of the kids rooms, or your box of childhood memories (yeah... right over there... beside the lava lamp), and use them to light up the night. At least, on Halloween!!!

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