Worried About the Mercury in Compact Fluorescent Bulbs?

cfl-bulb-recycleThis is an update of an article I wrote for another blog in 2008:

Everyone knows that switching out your light bulbs to CFL saves money, but many people are concerned about the mercury in them.

According to John Balbus, M.D., Chief Health Officer at Environmental Defense, CFLs contain less mercury than was in the old-fashioned mercury thermometers. And even broken, he says the exposure rate is about equivalent to a “can or two” of tuna fish.

In addition, when compared to the total life cycle of incandescent bulbs, from production to the amount of energy from a coal-burning plant needed to power the bulb over its life, CFLs are responsible for far less mercury in our environment. According to Popular Mechanics:

Approximately 0.0234 mg of mercury—plus carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide—releases into the air per 1 kwh of electricity that a coal-fired power plant generates. Over the 7500-hour average range of one CFL, then, a plant will emit 13.16 mg of mercury to sustain a 75-watt incandescent bulb but only 3.51 mg of mercury to sustain a 20-watt CFL (the lightning equivalent of a 75-watt traditional bulb). Even if the mercury contained in a CFL was directly released into the atmosphere, an incandescent would still contribute 4.65 more milligrams of mercury into the environment over its lifetime.

But even if there is less mercury used in the total production, the CFLs do have a small amount mercury inside each bulb. Clearly, we want to avoid throwing spent bulbs into the regular garbage where they can easily break and end up in our landfills. Yet it can be inconvenient to collect the used bulbs for delivery to Miami-Dade’s Home Chemical disposal sites.

This is why Ikea, Home Depot and Lowes have set up light bulb recycle programs in their stores. The Environmental Coalition of Miami and the Beaches (ECOMB) has also set up a drop-off collection site at its offices: 210 2nd St, Miami Beach. (They ask that you call first if dropping of CFLs, batteries or ewaste.) And to make recycling your compact fluorescent lighting really easy, Smart At Bulbs offers free pick-up in the Greater Miami area.

Industries have been recycling mercury for years. Now with easy options like those noted above, consumers can too. We can all make the switch to Compact Fluorescent Bulbs with less worry about mercury in our environment.

Would You Live Here? 5 Remarkable Recycled Homes

Years ago, a friend and I were talking about our “dream homes”. Mine was a decommissioned small church or chapel because I’ve always loved the architectual elements found in them. It looks like someone else had the same idea as seen in #4 on Glenn Myers’ list of “5 Remarkable Recycled Homes”.

Which one is your favorite?



5 Remarkable Recycled Homes (via Green Building Elements)

A number of innovative structures have been created using materials that might otherwise have been destined for the landfill. Here are five examples of what we’ve found, thanks to the The Daily Green, Flavorwire, and Design Buzz. 1. New Life for a Grain Silo House  2. House of Bottled Dreams 3.…

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How To Make Your House Greener

Guest Post by Liam Ohm (via Green Building Elements)

It’s becoming increasingly important to make your house greener. Benefits include helping the environment by cutting down on the amount of CO2 emissions released from your home, as well as committing to recyclable materials. At the same time, it’s possible to make your house greener by cutting back on bad habits when it comes to using power, while keeping an eye on the kind of products that you use. By doing so, you can make a contribution to environmental health. These approaches, and more, are detailed below:

Melanie Dawn Miami LEED Platinum Coconut Grove
Coconut Grove – LEED Platinum Home

 

Solar Panels

More and more people are installing solar panels on the roofs of their homes. Photovoltaic cells generate energy from the sun, and provide a clean alternative to the electricity taken from the National Grid. Tax and tariff incentives are also available for those that invest in solar panels.

Green Roofs

A green roof involves planting vegetation on a layer on top of your home. The vegetation releases valuable oxygen into the atmosphere, while the roof is waterproofed to prevent damaging the structure of your home.

Switching Off Lights

One of the simplest habits that can be followed for a greener home, switching off lights when not in use, and switching older bulbs for eco-friendly ones, as well as investing in LED lights, can save you money and cut down on electricity usage. Dimmer switches can similarly be used to reduce dependence on high energy light bulbs, while automatic lights can turn themselves off when no motion is detected in a room.

Blinds

Window blinds can provide environmental benefits for your home through UV protection layers, which repel the harmful effects of the sun. At the same time, blinds available in recyclable materials like honeycomb can reduce the amount of plastic in your home.

Avoiding Dryers

If possible, avoid using a tumble drier for your clothes, and instead invest in indoor racks for your home. Doing so will save you electricity, and can be particularly effective on hot and windy days.

Use Eco Cleaning Products

Switching the brands of your cleaning products can have a positive effect on the eco friendliness of your home. Choosing eco brands that don’t contain damaging chemicals or release gases into the atmosphere is particularly recommended.

Recycle

A simple task to follow: you can boost your home’s environmental rating by sticking to a recycling schedule. This can mean sorting through plastic, paper, and glass, as well as creating a compost heap for food, tea bags, and coffee grounds.

Don’t Overuse Heat

Don’t leave your heating on for more than you need it for. Turning down your heating, or switching it off altogether in the Spring and the Summer, is usually a good idea.

Don’t Build Up Plastic

Try to cut down on the amount of useless plastic that you have around your home. This might be represented by old plastic bags, which can be recycled, and replaced by bags for life.

Laundry

You can wash most clothes on a cold, rather than a hot water cycle. There are many detergents that work just as well with this setting.


Author Bio: Liam Ohm is a regular home improvement blogger. He highly recommends stylish and versatile venetian blinds for a great way to compliment your windows.

via repost.us courtesy Green Building Elements

Top Five Autumn “Green” Tips For South Florida

Happy Mabon! While it may not feel like it to those of us in South Florida, today is the Autumnal Equinox – the first day of fall. Media sources are full of energy-saving tips for those in the north to “winterize” their homes; but what about the Sunshine State? Are there any seasonal “green” recommendations for us? YES! Here are my top five favorites:

1. Change your light bulbs. The difference may not be as noticeable to us so close to the Tropic of Cancer, but our days are getting shorter too, and we will be using our lights more through the winter. Lighting accounts for approximately one-fourth of our home energy costs. More interestingly for a state that battles the heat 9 months of the year, incandescent light bulbs give off 90% of their energy as heat, not light. If you have not done it already, replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. Each CFL bulb can reduce energy use by up to two-thirds, last many times longer that incandescent, and can save you up to $50 over the life of the bulb.

2. Start a compost pile. Even in South Florida, deciduous trees lose their leaves, so why not turn this “lawn waste” into nutrient-rich soil and fertilizer for your winter vegetable garden?  Reduce waste, great for your garden and saves you money.

3. Check the air pressure in your tires. Cooler temperatures lower tire pressure and that, in turn, lowers fuel efficiency. So check your tires and make sure that they are properly inflated.

4. Conserve water. South Florida autumns also mark the start of our dry season (mid-October through mid-June). While it is important to conserve water all year long, autumn is when we need to reduce your lawn-watering schedule to no more than once per week. The most popular grasses used in South Florida are both heat and drought resistant. Over-watering is actually bad for them.

5. Adjust the thermostat. The recommended air conditioning setting is 78 degrees while the heater should be set at no warmer than 68 degrees.  By installing a programmable thermostat, you can save additional energy and money by automatically adjusting the temperatures while you are away or sleeping. According to the EPA the typical homeowner can save around $180 annually, or more than twice the average cost of the new thermostat.

What is Santa’s Carbon Footprint?

While the song talks about a white Christmas, the good people over at Ethical Ocean having been dreaming of a green Christmas. They decided to take a look at Santa’s carbon footprint, and have even offered some great tips to help Santa have a more environmentally friendly holiday. Enjoy!

Santa's Carbon Footprint Infographic

via Ethical Ocean – eco friendly products, fair trade and vegan shopping.

Pinecrest Gardens Needs Your Coffee Grounds

I don’t drink coffee. I know… how weird, right? Both of my parents were coffee drinkers, but I’ve never developed the taste for it. So, about once a month, I have to take a cup of coffee and a container of coffee grounds home from my office. The brewed coffee is mixed with henna for my hair, and the coffee grounds go into the soil in my garden. My gardenias especially love a bit of coffee every spring and summer.

Craig Morell, the horticulure expert at Pinecrest Gardens, also uses coffee for his garden – not his hair. And now he is looking for restaurants to donate their coffee grounds to Pinecrest Gardens, too.  According to their website:

A few months ago, he had a flash of inspiration: “Why not expand my home-garden usage of coffee grounds as an organic soil supplement to a larger scale, say…Pinecrest Gardens?” Gardeners have used coffee and tea grounds for decades on the soil of “special” plants like gardenias and roses, so why not use the artwork of a local barrista to our best purposes?… and so “Coffee for You in the Morning, For Your Garden in the Evening: Grounds for your Grounds” was born.

The local Starbucks have been donating their coffee grounds for the pilot program and Morell has seen “noticeable” benefits already. So if you own or manage a South Florida restaurant and would like to participate, contact Craig Morell by email at gardens@pinecrest-fl.gov

 

Miami-Dade County Helps Turn Your Backyard Green – Rain Barrel Workshop

Did you know that Florida receives an average of 56 inches of rainfall per year? And just a quarter- inch of rainfall over a 1000 square foot area (like your roof) can yield around 150 gallons of water. By placing rain barrels at your gutter downspouts, you can quickly fill a 50 gallon barrel with naturally pure water free of chlorine, fluoride, and other chemicals to keep your flower beds, garden and houseplants well watered.


The Miami-Dade County Cooperative Extension Service, in cooperation with the University of Florida, is offering a series of Rain Barrel Workshops this year. The workshops are FREE to residents of Miami-Dade County; providing information about important water conservation issues plus instructions on how to construct and install a rain barrel yourself. And for those attending the workshop, you will also be able to purchase a 50 gallon rain barrel for just $40.


All rain barrel workshops also include a showerhead and light bulb exchange courtesy of Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department.

Plan to attend a workshop this Saturday, May 7th, from 10:00 – 11:00 at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, 2000 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach, Florida 33139. For more information, contact Lize Luna at 305-248-3311 ext. 242 or Barbara McAdam  at ext. 245 or email Barbara at bmcadam@ufl.edu.

And for more information about real estate and environmental issues in Miami-Dade, visit my web page at http://www.melaniesellsmiami.com/

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, Ecorazzi has presented “Ten Ways To Go Green On St. Patrick’s Day”

Great tips for today and everyday:

In order to maximize fun and goodwill, read below for ten surefire ways to make St. Patrick’s Day crazy-green. (And then you can tell those haters pinching you for not wearing green that, in thought and execution, you are totally green all over.)

Check it out: http://www.ecorazzi.com/2011/03/14/ten-ways-to-go-green-on-st-patricks-day/ and have a great St. Patty’s Day!

Melanie Dawn’s Fav Five Green Businesses Serving Pinecrest Florida

I am frequently asked to write guest articles for Coldwell Banker’s “Insight Real Estate Blog” serving the Atlanta, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Florida markets. My recurring feature, called “Hear the Eco,” is about various green topics affecting the Miami-Dade real estate market.

In a recent four-part article, I wrote about my five favorite green businesses in or near the Village of Pinecrest. They are:

  • Evo’s green fast food: 9537 South Dixie Highway, Pinecrest
  • New Era Pest Control serving Pinecrest and all of Miami-Dade: 786-462-5912
  • Sudsies Drycleaner and Laundry (305-864-3279) / Dryeco Green Cleaners (877-7-Dryeco)
  • Staples: 9801 South Dixie Highway, Pinecrest
  • Whole Foods Market: 11701 South Dixie Highway, Pinecrest

For more details and links to these green businesses, visit the full article at Hear the Eco.

Five Reasons to Compost in Miami-Dade

How_Compost_Happens

1. Composting is easy! As easy as throwing away your garbage, in fact. Simply separate compostable garbage into a separate bin.

2. Composting is saves money! Compost doesn’t require any fancy equipment, but it will save you money by reducing what you spend for fertilizers and potting soils.

3. Composting is good for your garden! Gardens that are composted produce more fruits, vegetables and flowers; and compost contains no petroleum products the way most commercial fertilizers do.

4. Composting is good for the planet! The EPA estimates that about 25% of your household waste is yard trimmings, vegetable scraps and other compostable items. Composting helps reduce our local landfills and emissions from the incinerator plants.

5. Composting is FREE! Compost workshops are being offered by Miami-Dade County, in cooperation with the University of Florida, and taught by a Master Gardener.

Learn how to start and maintain a compost pile to turn your yard waste and food scraps into rich soil this Saturday, February 5th, from 12:00 – 12:30 p.m. at the Coral Gables Farmers Market located at 405 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables, Florida 33134. For more information, contact Lize Luna at 305-248-3311 ext. 242 or Barbara McAdam at ext. 245 or email Barbara at bmcadam@ufl.edu.
A rain barrel workshop immediately follows from 1:00 – 2:00. The rain barrel workshop is free, plus Miami-Dade residents will have an opportunity to purchase a rain barrel for $40. The event also includes a showerhead and light bulb exchange courtesy of Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department. For more information, contact Lize Luna at 305-248-3311 ext. 242 or Barbara McAdam at ext. 245 or email Barbara at bmcadam@ufl.edu.

And for more information about real estate and environmental issues in Miami-Dade, visit my web page at http://www.melanieinmiami.com/