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Home Depot to Give Away a Million CFLs This Sunday

Business  (tags: sustainability, environment, green, conservation, eco-friendly, energy, greenliving )

- 4412 days ago -
Home improvement giant Home Depot is planning what may be the biggest one-time giveaway of CFLs ever. The retailer will give away one million CFLs to customers this Sunday in observance of Earth Day.


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Boris Branwhite (296)
Friday April 20, 2007, 10:17 pm
one million of these things equals 5 kilos of mercury snuck into consumers homes -- and with zero disposal facilities available

Lynn G (24)
Saturday April 21, 2007, 9:44 am
Boris, this is a good thing. It may not be perfect, but if we reject all small steps because they're not pure enough, then we're really in big trouble.

Past Member (0)
Saturday April 21, 2007, 10:38 am
Lynn......I agree. As time goes on better bulbs will be developed. In the meatime this helps put our two cents in for Mother Nature!!

Just do it.....................Plant trees!!

kx b (5)
Saturday April 21, 2007, 10:44 am
hope that led lightbulbs become cheaper and bright enough to replace cfl`s.maybe cfl`s are only a small percent vapor merc`s but 20 million bulbs inproperly disposed creates the same dam! problem or worse as wasting energy and the countless problems associated with the entire disaster the eco is facing in the 21st century which seems unbelievable that the struggle to accomplish anything postive is still such a hassle after the decades of research,etc.

Michael Barth (43)
Saturday April 21, 2007, 1:08 pm
I know these CFL's have trace amount of mercury in them, but we need to educate people about proper disposal of CFL's. But just think about how much mercury CFL's keep out of the atmosphere through lower energy use. I know in Illinois, most of the energy produce is by coal-fired power plants, so I think the conversion to CFL's will keep a lot of mercury out of the atmosphere. Maybe as a whole, we could write our representatives to get more disposal sites or write the big-box stores to accept the CFL's back as soon as they have worn out.

Chris Otahal (507)
Saturday April 21, 2007, 3:22 pm
Here is a great resource on CFL's - note the mercury link about half way down on the right hand side:

Boris Branwhite (296)
Saturday April 21, 2007, 3:56 pm
even if home depot or wal mart take them back, there are still no safe disposal facilities - they havent been built -- all these bulbs currently enter the waste stream -- for extensive data on this issue, see this share -

Rebecca G (3)
Saturday April 21, 2007, 5:14 pm
I agree with Lynn as well...sure it's not a perfect solution, but it is a step in a right direction and we can't be criticizing small steps.

Chris Baskind (11)
Saturday April 21, 2007, 6:14 pm
More on CFLs from the originating site:

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 22, 2007, 12:26 am
well - scratch 'Home Depot' from my list of shopping places.
that is about the most stupid and public endangering action I've ever heard of - aside from "RAT' Bush & gang entertaining the country with 'misslegate' [911]; but since the 'home depot' ceo is a 'RAT' crony, it doesn't surprise me any. It's simply another step in their process of eradicating life from this planet. Talk about 'mind control' !!! They must be under some form of alien 'mind control'. I've sent a message to 'RAT' Bush at the whitehouse suggesting that 'ET' [him] should just go home - why doesn't he?

Maggie G (102)
Sunday April 22, 2007, 12:33 am
Don't these bulbs last a long time, like 5 years? Is it possible that by the time they really start expiring in large amounts we could have proper disposal facilities in place? There are no perfect solutions, but I think this is certainly a good step in the right direction. For those alarmed by the mercury, consider this your cue to start pushing for proper disposal facilities by the time these products start entering the waste stream en-masse. We're looking to you to lead the way!

Michael Cline (23)
Sunday April 22, 2007, 3:52 am
some will conplain at a free meal but they don't want to help ,i think its a good thing

Linda B (71)
Sunday April 22, 2007, 12:01 pm
We've had monthly hazardous waste drop-off sites set up in our city for years. And if it's happening here, as behind the times as we can be, I'm sure there are others set up around the country.

Boris Branwhite (296)
Sunday April 22, 2007, 3:06 pm
we have hazardous waste pickups here as well, but the material still ends up in landfill, not recycled.
the facilities to recycle mercury and radioactive gas do exist -- in france and germany -- there is not one facility in australia capable of recycling these toxic bulbs, and theres not one planned for the near future either.
please look at the data in the share i posted above -- the 'end user' savings are well and truly deleted by the manufacturing and disposal footprint.

Marjorie M (81)
Sunday April 22, 2007, 10:03 pm
NO THANKS to MERCURY....I had a close encounter with Mercury that landed me in the hospital........Think about this....light bulbs get broken in homes in a variety of dropped and broken on the floor of a kitchen might not be the best play place for the baby in the home even after it is cleaned up.......the glass will be obvious, but where will the mercury go......I agree with you Boris.....Certainly there are enough POISONS in our environments....even in our home environment.

Boris Branwhite (296)
Sunday April 22, 2007, 11:35 pm
and what about radioactive gas?
how does one wipe that up?

Charles Q (20)
Monday April 23, 2007, 2:03 am
I betcha that the Bush friendly Home Depot will get a nice, fat tax write- off for this ploy.

Joe F (0)
Monday April 23, 2007, 12:05 pm
when you substitute cfls for incandescent bulbs...what recycling is available for the latter?...I have not to date found any recycling source...with so many folks considering switching this would be an additional incentive don't you think?...jj

Evelyn Z (300)
Monday April 23, 2007, 3:04 pm
I picked mine up at Home Depot yesterday (Earth Day) -
It specifically states on the package:
Contains Mercury.
Dispose according to Local, State or Federal Laws =
See: Or Call 1-800-378-6998

Boris Branwhite (296)
Monday April 23, 2007, 3:11 pm
this filthy technology is conning people into thinking something is being done about greenhouse gasses by the power industry -- all it is really doing, is expanding toxic industries so the power companies can be seen to be doing something good, whilst wringing every lump of coal on the planet into electricity, instead of reversing the polluted methods they currently use, and implementing non toxic renewable methods.

Cat L (10)
Tuesday April 24, 2007, 1:49 pm
I agree with Boris Branwhite.

Lynn G (24)
Sunday April 29, 2007, 12:43 pm
Sorry Boris, but according to the EPA, the amount of mercury used in CFLs is less than those in incandescent bulbs.

Study shows that the bulbs contain around 4mg of mercury, and using it adds another 2.4mg produced by the power plant - for a total of 6.4mg of mercury. Using your incandescent bulb for the same period produces 10mg of mercury (all through the power plant), because it burns so much more electricity. So, CFLs actually REDUCE the amount of mercury released into the environment (and note that the mercury in your CFL can be recycled, while that which the power plants produce goes into your food and water.


Boris Branwhite (296)
Sunday April 29, 2007, 2:58 pm
incandescent bulbs do not contain mercury -- the average for cfl's is 5 milligrams -- this technology is creating a market for mercury that previously did not exist.
mining mercury and refining mercury has a huge footprint -- during the refining process, up to half the mercuric oxide in the ore is lost in the atmosphere as methyl mercury.
the carbon footprint of the coal fired power used to run the mercury mining and refining is absolutely enormous -- so each bulb you buy increases co2 just by the manufacturing process.
the amounts of power used by refining plants daily would run a small city.
i notice the epa does not add the manufacturing co2 cost to its figures.
and thats mercury only -- there are a number of mined minerals in cfl's that are not in incandescents -- and theres no mention of the carbon/mercury footprint in burning forests to make the charcoal required to produce the silica used in the chip that runs these things --
when you use cfl's, you do not get the ambient temperature gain, so home heating use increases, albeit slightly, which the epa also does not add to the footprint
and can someone tell me why it is ok to manufacture and distribute radioactive products widely, with not even a warning on the packet?
sorry lynne -- when you add all the data, instead of believing the half truths of the epa, this technology starts to look like a frankenstein monster.

Boris Branwhite (296)
Sunday April 29, 2007, 3:10 pm
and as an afterthought, mercury has already caused major interruptions in the fertility systems of many mammals, including the total sterilisation of humans living or working in the mercury mining/refining districts of the world, as well as severely impacting bird fertility rates -- mercury is a substance we can do without entirely -- any effort to increase the demand for mercury could be seen as a crime against humanity.
the use of clear incandescents run by a 12 volt solar or home wind system have a footprint that melts into insignificance when compared with cfl technology

Past Member (0)
Sunday April 29, 2007, 3:14 pm
Based on your comments maybe I'll just stick to keeping low wattage old fashion bulbs going until some better shows up. But, of course we know how slow progress is in some areas. Had a feeling these bulbs were not all they were cracked up to be!

Plant seeds
Plant trees
Grow a forest
For Mother Nature
and her animals............

Lynn G (24)
Sunday April 29, 2007, 9:39 pm
Boris - I provided facts about the mercury produced in using the bulbs. You now give me a bunch of interesting counter opinions, but you don't mention the eco cost of producing incandescent bulbs (which is clearl not zero) and you don't show facts indicating all those costs are actually outweighing the benefit. ("absolutely enormous" sounds bad, but everything we're talking about here is "absolutely enormous" at scale).

Furthermore, we're at the early stage of CF development, and like incandescents, with growing demand there will no doubt be improvements in efficiencies and production. To simply say "no go until it's perfect" sounds a lot like something I'd expect from GW (ouch, sorry, that was harsher than intended ;)

I guess I'd rather most of America starts moving in the right direction than hope the fringe element who will actually install expensive (silica based - are those eco-cost free to produce?) solar panels and wind generators will offset as much power production.

Don't get me wrong - I think CFs are only a step in the right direction, and expect we'll have better options relatively soon, but far better to get lots of people doing something than a few people doing a lot.

Chris Baskind (11)
Monday April 30, 2007, 12:15 am
There are between 2.5 and 4 milligrams of mercury per bulb. No amount is safe, but CFLs are so much more efficient than incandescents that they will save more than this amount in the discharge of mercury into the atmosphere by most conventional power plants. At least there's a chance CFL mercury can be sequestered.

I completely agree that there *must* be mandatory recycling programs put into place by CFL retailers. Since the recycling will cost more than the value of the recovered materials, a small recycling fee will be passed along to the consumer.

CFLs aren't a free ride, but they're the best we have right now. LED lighting is 3-5 years from being commercially viable.

Kristin Griffin (12)
Monday April 30, 2007, 11:24 am
I just have to say that not all the packages for CFLs say that they contain mercury or that they should be disposed of in a special way. I had purchased CFL's to replace all the bulbs in my home (prior to our getting a new house) and not a single one said anything about mercury. I just recently found out about it and this was 2 days AFTER a bulb broke in my bedroom. I did what I usually do when a regular bulb breaks: picked up the big pieces (which I got stuck with one) and vacuumed it up. I then proceeded to vacume the other rooms in my home. Now sure that one CFL may not have put enough mercury in my home to do any real harm but thats beside the point. I have a 10 month old who is crawling around on the floor and here I am spreading it around my home. I took the necessary steps to clean my home and vacume afterwards of course but for a mother who works and takes care of three kids this is no easy task. I am not saying that CFLs are bad or any such thing but I do feel that the mercury warning and recycling warning should be required on every package. Maybe when my children are older and not so prone to breaking things I will go back to CFLs or when they put a recycling facility that isnt 50 miles from me.

Boris Branwhite (296)
Tuesday May 1, 2007, 4:07 am
lynn -- in the second post i put in this thread, i put the url of one of my recent blogs.
if you had looked at that, many of the questions you are asking would be answered.
i will make one addition -- with incandescent bulbs, the household types have air in them, no gas -- but the ones that illuminate tennis/baseball fields do contain a variety of gasses - sodium, mercury, silica etc
so the household ones we have been using have no gas, no mercury, no silica -- read the blog, look at the pic of the guts of a cfl -- read the data, then tell us they are ok.
i have been presenting facts -- thats what i deal with as an environmental scientist -- try a simple google search -- theres heaps of information available on this issue -- my knowledge comes from interrogating the industry, and a lifetime involved in electronics and the toxic chemicals used to manufacture them.
there have been an inordinate number of blind supporters of this new industry ripoff.
get out of the power company loop -- use solar and batteries
and before you say batteries are toxic -- yes they are, but they are also 98% reecyclable, and the facilities exist to recycle them now, not when facilities are built.

Vivian F (487)
Tuesday May 1, 2007, 5:23 am
Boris, there ARE disposable places. Here are just 2:

1-800-588-BULB ( or


Charles Q (20)
Tuesday May 1, 2007, 5:47 am
Last month my wife and I purchased GE's Energy Smart pack of (8) 13 watt CFLs at Sam's Club.
The packaging material itself is composed of 35% Post Consumer Recycled Fiber.
The backside of the package features a large CAUTION Risk of electric shock. DO not use where directly exposed to water. Do not open - no user serviceable parts inside. Lamps may shatter and cause injury if broken. Remove and install by grasping only plastic portion of the lamp.
LAMP CONTAINS MERCURY Manage In Accord With Disposable Laws
See: or 1-800-435-4448
Also listed on the package:
CFL bulbs replace incandesent light bulbs and fit in the same sockets.
They use up to 75% less energy and last 8-10 times longer.
They are perfect for hard-to-reach areas or where lights stay on for long periods.
Reliable starting up to 5'F (-15'C). Lamps requre a short warm up period to reach full brightness.
This product complies with Part 18 of the FCC Rules but may cause interference to radios, televisions, wireless telephones, and remote controls.
Avoid placing this product near these devices. If interference occurs, move product away from the device or plug either into a different outlet.
Do not install this
product near maritime equipment or other critical navigation or communication equipment operating between 0.45-30MHz. Use only on 120V 60 hertz circuits.
Not intended for use with emergency exit fixtures or lights, electronic timers, photocells, or with dimmers.

Although you may prefer incandescents over CFLs, I don't. The amount of useful light on one's ocular is poor with such bulbs - full spectrum lighting is superior and better suited than Edison's anachronistic bulbs that you seem to prefer. No doubt, were he stil alive "Doc" Edgerton would be leading the charge against such a horse and buggy specious argument.

Kristin Griffin (12)
Tuesday May 1, 2007, 6:23 am
The CFL's are not a bad idea there just needs to be more work toward making them better. I am sure the incandescent bulb had its arguments as being bad as well. I would use them other than the fact that there is no where to recycle them that is near me. If you look on that site the closest place to me is in Maryland. Now why would I want to buy something that I would have to drive out of state to recycle? I sure don't want to drag my 4 yr old, 2 yr old, and 10 month old baby all the way to MD just to drop off some bulbs. Also as I stated in my previous post the package that I bought did not have this warning on it. I am not saying that its not on any of them (I have looked at others) its just that some of the cheaper ones do not have this warning on it. I think there should be some kind of regulation as to what needs to be on the packages of ALL CFL's. Just my opinion on the matter.

Larry S (391)
Thursday May 3, 2007, 9:07 am


Boris Branwhite (296)
Thursday May 3, 2007, 3:08 pm
yes this is a great way to cut personal electric cost, but the total cost of manufacturing bulbs in electricity terms is far greater with cfl's than incandescents - the manufacturers and the electricity corporations that are peddling this technology are not telling us the full cost in energy terms of these bulbs. you pay for part of it in the higher price of the bulbs, and the rest of the electricity use is subsidised by governments to the manufacturing industries involved
i recently tried to get an material safety data sheet for these bulbs -- guess what -- not available -- and all merchandise sold are required to have, by law, a msds available --
this has all the hallmarks of a wool pulling exercise.
can any of you guys in the states get an msds?

Boris Branwhite (296)
Thursday May 3, 2007, 3:12 pm
the last mining operation i was involved in had a tax deal on power usage -- because it was considered a primary industry, all its electricity usage was tax deductable -- so the govt gave them back cash from the taxpayer to cover the gigantous power bills.

Chris Otahal (507)
Thursday May 3, 2007, 8:20 pm
Boris - a you have any figures on the "carbon footprint" of a CFL vs an incondessent bulb? Also, in compairing ecological impact you need to compair ten incondessents to one CFL (the cfl lasts 10 times as long as an incondessent). Also the CFL bulbs cost more initially, but in the long term you save money - according to the packaging I have each bulb will save $55 over the life of the bulb in electrical costs. We do have local recycling here - which should be part of any program which makes CFLs mandatory. As pointed out earlier - CFLs do have mercury in them , but the ammount is less than that not produced from the electricty saves (assuming that one's power comes mostly from coal, as is the case in most of the US). As for MSDS you can try this site:

Boris Branwhite (296)
Thursday May 3, 2007, 11:54 pm
chris - i am still compiling figures - there are so many industries involved in cfl production that it is a big task -- i have still not found out the carbon footprint of a silicone chip, nor the carbon footprint of the zenon and radon production.
industry sources are telling me that the 10 times as long spin is not so -- a batch oc cfl's will have about 3-8% defective at delivery, another 30% lasting less than 3 months, in circumstances where lights are left on 24/7
they also say that each time you switch them off, it reduces the life of the bulb.
i have some incandescents here that are over 15 years old and still working - only used when necessary.
using cfl's in that manner reduces their lifestyle by years, - i would like to see industries data on the 10 times hypothesis - chris can you ask your local recycler for some footprint data? -- like how much electricity is used, what equipment etc?
thanks for the above link -- compare the msds for the incandescent, with that for the FLUORESCENT LAMP HOME LIGHT & KITCHEN/BATH msds -- each of the ingredient industries involved have a footprint that needs to be added to the footprint of the final product.

Melvina J (0)
Sunday May 6, 2007, 3:44 am
OK , Why does't some one just make a light bulb that the sun rechargers . With all the small transistors we can make how come no one has made a light bulb that is solor and a sunning window would recharge it , they make small solor lighting for out doors . So it is posable to do and would run for at least 12 to 18 hours off one charge . MJ

Marjorie M (81)
Sunday May 6, 2007, 10:02 pm
Good Idea Melvina........The SUN is the Source of all of our Sun and the Earth would be just another rock in the Universe.....

Linda B (71)
Wednesday May 9, 2007, 4:56 pm
To find if and where hazardous waste is recycled in your area go to
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