In a world that has ever increasing energy demands, examining the role that lighting can play in environmental stability has become an increasingly popular discussion. For many, this discussion is focused purely on how much energy a bulb consumes, whether it is during the production cycle or when used by the end consumer. However, while energy consumption is an important factor, a bulb’s environmental impact does not only center around its power draw. Let’s examine the impact light bulbs have on the landfills that they end up in once they are discarded.
When examining the relationship between light bulbs and landfills, a very strong argument can be made as to why LED bulbs are the most eco friendly option. LED bulbs typically last at least 50,000 hours, and up to 200,000. When compared to traditional incandescent bulbs which last 3,000 hours, you can see where this could easily lead to no less than 16 times fewer light bulbs being sent to the landfills by using LEDs. Not only will you be sending 16 less bulbs to landfill, but also all the material that is associated with the packaging of all the other incandescent bulbs that would be purchased throughout the lifespan of an energy efficient LED.
How does this impact the environment? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the methane produced by the rotting matter in landfills is 20 times more damaging than carbon dioxide at trapping heat from the sun. Any time you can limit the amount of product being sent to a landfill, it is beneficial for the environment; packing material associated with the purchase of a new product is something that people can overlook when examining the green benefits of a longer lasting light bulb.
LED’s stance as the most environmentally friendly lighting choice holds up even when comparing them to a more energy efficient bulb than the traditional incandescent. CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) lights, while not having the lifespan that a LED would offer, have become a popular alternative to the traditional light bulb, typically lasting 8 – 12 times longer. These bulbs have a lower price point and have been on the market longer, making them an option for many consumers that are searching for a more energy efficient and/or green option. However, the CFL lights have some very real environmental concerns, particularly once they are disposed of, due to the mercury that is contained within the bulb.
If these bulbs are disposed of properly, their mercury content is not as much of a concern; however, if these bulbs make their way to a landfill, their mercury content is of great environmental concern. Mercury can very quickly contaminate a landfill and pose very real dangers to the general population if it were to leach into rivers, streams and possibly even water aqueducts. It is worth noting that LED bulbs, unlike their CFL and incandescent counterparts, contain no mercury.
For all the reasons above, the United States Department of Energy has classified LED bulbs as the most environmentally friendly form of lighting. While most people associate this distinction as solely a byproduct of the bulb’s long life span and energy saving capabilities, it is the greater impact on our ecosystem that earn LED’s this distinction. Switching to eco friendly home products and focusing on earth friendly materials has a cumulative effects on the environment, helping to secure our planet’s future. Go beyond simply reducing energy and amplify your efforts by helping to reduce your own contribution to landfills.
Have you made the switch yet?