01/17/2007: "what to do with a bunch of incandescent lightbulbs?"
Being the energy-savvy consumer that I am, I've been replacing our incandescent bulbs with compact fluourescent bulbs over the past few years. Jannette was complaining about the bright white colour of the ones I had in the basement, so I bought an 8-pack of warmer ones, and went on a replacement spree throughout the whole house. We're more CFL than we are incandescent now, methinks.
Only problem is, now I have a stack on perfectly good (if used) incandescent lightbulbs sitting on my workbench. What am I supposed to do with them? Being green-minded and creative I'd like to say I know the perfect answer... but I don't. Chuck them in the landfill? I think not. Let someone else take and use them? Well, doesn't that defeat the purpose of REPLACING them with CFLs?
What to do?
The one hope I'm holding out for is that they are recycleable. I'm not holding MUCH hope out for that option, but I'm hoping nonetheless. After all, they're just glass, steel, tungsten, and a little bit of solder, right? They should be perfectly recycleable. I'm guessing, however, that not many municipalities (if any) actively recycle lightbulbs.
Someone (maybe myself) needs to figure this out, and fast. A few year ago one CFL bulb cost nearly $10. Just last week I got my 8-pack for $20. The prices are coming down, and fast. Soon we will be flooded with lightbulbs.
Actually, scratch that. We probably already ARE flooded with lightbulbs... these incandescent bulbs don't last all that long, so figure every two years (to be conservative) every single incandescent lightbulb in everyone's home has to be replaced. That is (pardon my language) a shitload of lightbulbs!! And an awful lot of glass and steel clogging our landfill. (I've never heard of anyone successfully composting glass or burning it for energy, so I'll make the brazen assumption that it just sits there for eons.)
So what can one do with a lighbulb to re-use it? Re-task it as a heating element? Probably not enough volume there. Figure out how to recycle it? Probably the most likely, especially if the tungsten filament could be recovered in a relatively pure form. Otherwise.... I don't know! Argh, my creativity fails me!
Until I hear a convincing plan for what to do with them, I'm going to keep asking. Perhaps I should write GE or Sylvania and see what they have to say for themselves. If I ever find a good use for your used-but-still-functional incandescent lightbulbs, I'll let you know. If you hear of or think of something, please let me know!