I just came across an interesting piece on Grist that points out that only about 2% of Americans recycle compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Replacing incandescents with CFLs is a common trend in the world of household energy-efficiency. But all florescent lights contain mercury – which is a very harmful neurotoxin. If CFLs are tossed in the trash, they end up in the landfill and mercury will eventually work its way into the environment. In fact, as a result of discarded fluorescent lights, including CFLs, U.S. landfills release upward of 4 tons of mercury annually into the atmosphere and/or stormwater runoff. According to Grist, that is about 10% of the total amount released by coal-fired power plants each year.
So, what can you do about this? Where can one take CFLs to properly dispose of them? Moreover for those of you changing the oil in your lawn mowers this month, where can you take the old oil from last year? What about old batteries?
To answer these questions, I offer the following tips. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I tried to offer the easiest (and most cost-effective) solution. Please leave a comment if you have other tips to add.
Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs): Home Depot and IKEA will take them for free.
Used motor oil: O’Reilly Auto Parts, Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, and Wal-Mart SuperCenter will take up to 3 gallons for free.
Batteries: Interstate Batteries takes automobile, NiCad, rechargeable, and single-use (e.g. Energizer, Duracell) batteries for free.
Old electronics: Best Buy will take about anything electronic including TVs, DVD players, computer monitors, audio and video cables, cell phones, and more for free.