life in my hood with 2 teenagers, a toddler and chronic pain

CFLs–WTF May 4, 2009

Filed under: everything is connected,life's a bitch and so am i — mothahhood @ 3:43 am
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Last week the DWP (department of water and power) dropped off a little package at our house with some brochures of energy saving tips and 2 CFL light bulbs and it turns out, it was not a moment too soon. The lightbulb in the lamp next to my bed blew out last night. Of course, we are trying to go as green as we can so I was thrilled to have the new CFL to replace my old incandescent energy sucking dinosaur. I went to the closet, pulled out the new bulb, still safe in its box and proudly walked back toward my bedroom. Screeeeeeech. That is the sound of me coming to a halt. Imagine my dismay when right there on the box, in red letters, were the words,


Not for use with dimmers.


Here’s the thing, with the exception of 3 lamps in our house, every lamp and overhead canned light in our ceilings (and we’re talking about maybe 29) are on dimmers.  Holy shit, does that mean I can never be truly green?  I knew from Kermit the frog that “its not easy being green” but I never imagined it was this hard.

And here’s the real kicker, also right there on the box are these words:


Compact Fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) contain trace amounts of mercury, a chemical used to make the bulbs glow bright. In California, it is illegal to throw burnt CFL bulbs in the trash. Please bring spent CFL bulbs to your nearest household hazardous trash collection center for proper disposal. Call 311 to find your nearest location. Thank you for saving energy and helping to protect the environment.

For more CFL disposal information visit:

And then they list 3 separate websites.

Three things I know to be pretty true are:

1. Most people don’t bother to read things like this.  I learned this as my many years as a film professional who sent out hundreds of memos, many of which were never read, and as my just as many years as a teacher who ran teacher training sessions and even teachers, of all people, didn’t read the directions.

2. Most people who do read things, don’t bother with following the directions, especially when it involves any inconvenience on their part.

3. We live in Los Angeles, where nothing is  less than 20 minutes away with or without traffic and even assuming people would be so responsible as to take their “spent CFL bulbs to their nearest household hazardous trash collection center for proper disposal,” they would be burning enough gasoline to likely offset any greening they accomplished by using the bulbs in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong, I donate to all kinds of environmental causes, we recycle, we only use our dishwasher and washing machine when they are full and only use the cold settings.  We clean our home with environmentally safe products.  We buy organic. I have never used personal care products that have been tested on animals. We almost bought a Prius as our last car and nothing would make me happier than replacing ALL of our current bulbs with CFLs. But come on guys, lets make these bulbs a little more user friendly.