Fluorescent Light Bulbs and Tubes
Although the instructions for responsible disposal of non-working compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) tell you to simply wrap the bulb in a plastic bag and throw it in the trash, don’t. Instead, take your spent CFLs to any Home Depot location, or any Ikea store, where the toxic bulbs will meet a safer end. In the D/FW area, Universal Recycling Technologies will recycle your old fluorescent bulbs and tubes and currently partners with some municipal household hazardous waste programs. Check with your city for details. Note: the amount of mercury pollution prevented by saving energy—often produced by coal-fired power plants, which emit mercury into the atmosphere—is greater than the amount of mercury in CFLs. Thus, you should undoubtedly continue to utilize energy efficient lighting…just make sure you don’t follow the instructions and recycle responsibly instead.
As many households switch to sleek new programmable thermostats (a good move for energy efficiency mavens), it’s important to make sure that you—or your contractor—know that recycling the old bulky thermostat will help prevent mercury from entering our landfills. The Thermostat Recycling Corporation, started by leaders in the thermostat industry, facilitates programs across Texas and the U.S. Since old thermostats contain among the highest mercury content of household items, recycling is a must. Find details at www.thermostat-recycle.org.
Brita® Water Filters
Turn your used water filters into toothbrushes. Really. A company called Preserve, will take your old Brita® filters—made mostly of number 5 plastic—and remanufacture them into razors, cutting boards, bowls, cups and, yes, toothbrushes. At www.preserveproducts.com/recycling, you can find drop-off locations for Brita® brand water filters. Note: unfortunately, Preserve doesn’t accept other branded filters at this time.