Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Change a Bulb, Change Everything

Change a Bulb. Change Everything: 18seconds.org

by Sami Grover, Carrboro, NC, USA on 02.23.07

Things are looking bad for the incandescent bulb. Not only have California and Australia decided to ban this out dated technology, but it seems there is a huge surge in interest in its successors – the Compact Flourescent Lightbulb (CFL) and, ultimately, LED technology. Yesterday saw the launch of 18Seconds.org, an innovative new US campaign with the slogan: ‘Change a bulb. Change everything.’ The campaign website asks “how enlightened is your area”, and then sets out to provide answers. The idea is to offer an interactive map ranking states, and major cities, according to how many CFLs have been bought since the beginning of the year. So far, Arkansas is in the lead with 284,055 bulbs sold, while District of Columbia is in last place, with only 1725 bulbs sold this year. Of course, this is not exactly a fair competition, given that it is based on total number of bulbs sold, rather than bulbs per capita. However, the idea is neat - by tapping into people’s civic pride and natural sense of competition we can increase adoption of efficient technologies.

It’s not all about being first though. The website also includes some accessible and easy to understand education on why CFLs make so much sense, how to choose your bulbs, and how to dispose of them properly (they suggest checking out earth911 for appropriate recycling facilities). Crucially, the site also tackles the question of CFL toxicity pointing out that, while proper disposal is important, coal plants also produce mercury, so increased efficiency means less total mercury in the atmosphere. For a more in-depth discussion of the various objections to CFLs and why they are, in our opinion, mostly invalid, check out Ron Dembo’s post on the subject here.

Other important snippets of information on 18seconds.org include the fact that an ‘energy star qualified CFL saves 450 pounds of CO2 in its lifetime’, and that it will save a homeowner up to $60 in energy bills. The site also informs people, in no uncertain terms, that reducing ‘the amount of fossil fuels you burn – to power your home, office, or vehicle – is the most important thing you can do to reduce global warming.’

The 18 seconds.org website has been put together by Yahoo and Nielsen, and we know that Wal Mart are also involved – check out Treehugger Radio, being posted later today, to hear Andy Ruben of Wal Mart discuss this initiative, and stay tuned for a more in-depth interview with him next week. We will be keeping a close eye on this initiative, and are in the process of getting more information on how this came about, and where it is headed. In the meantime, we thought we’d engage our ever-creative readers on how communities can best promote the adoption of CFLs, and boost their rankings on 18seconds.org. We’ve already heard about our very own Mr Luna and his Bright Idea, but what other ways can civic society get involved? Are Treehuggers best advised to put their efforts into campaigning for a ban on the old bulbs, or into promoting awareness and uptake of the alternatives? One thing is for sure, the incandescent just got a little bit older, and maybe we can help its demise. ::18seconds.org::

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