Waste I See Every Day...

June 29, 2008

I know on this board I'm preaching to the choir, but maybe if we all could educate one other person about some of these things, we could control some of the waste that has made our economy so energy-inefficient:

-Drive-up windows. At banks, fast-food places, pharmacies and other places, I see six, seven, eight or more cars in drive-up lines, engines idling, a/c turned on. If there's no one waiting, maybe the drive-up is not a bad option, but if there is a big line, why not go in? Besides, extended idling of an engine, especially with the a/c on, heats up the engine and transmission and exposes them to additional wear.

-Supplies. It seems anytime people don't pay directly for something, such as for napkins, packets of ketchup, and other supplies at a fast-food restaurant, many take way too much and then toss it all in the trash. I see this virtually every time I go into a fast-food restaurant. Inch-high stacks of napkins, plastic trays full of unused packs of ketchup, mustard, hot sauce - all of this thrown out.

-Home lighting. Drive by houses at night, and you see most are still using incandescent bulbs for outdoor lighting. Why? Compact fluorescents have been available for years now, and they're cheap, long-lasting, and use a fourth the energy. I realize there are a few fixtures that can't accept them, but not that many, given all of the shapes and sizes of CFLs now available.

-Energy use at work. This is similar to the "supplies" category above: When people don't pay for it, many waste it. At work, many leave computers, lights, office equipment on all weekend, even when they're going away for an extended vacation. Many even disable the built-in energy saver feature that powers down the computer monitor after a while, using instead a "screen saver" that keeps the monitor powered up forever. Okay, you're not paying for it, but why burn a pile of coal to generate electricity for no purpose other than to power something no one is using?

-Out-of-town meetings. This is one the individual does not have much control over, but it needs to be addressed institutionally. I was recently involved in a training course where 40 people had to travel distances ranging from 20 to 110 miles (most were on the higher end of that range) to attend six day-long meetings. In only a few cases were people able to carpool, and no one spent the night because the meetings were not on consecutive days. So there were at least 30 vehicles, driving an average of 140 miles round-trip, multiplied by six days. That's 25,200 vehicle-miles -- two years' worth of driving for an average family car -- to drive to meetings. Yet all of that could have been saved because the whole course could have been put on a DVDs and mailed out, or conducted online.

-Buying new stuff that we don't need. Everything we buy has embedded energy in the form of the energy used to make it and transport it. But every day in America, people cart home armloads of junk that was either worthless to begin with or that they did not need because they already had other items that served the same purpose.

-Products that use lots of energy for some limited purpose, such as home water coolers, little refrigerators for the kids' rooms or bar, extra refrigerators in the garage, rec. room, basement so people don't have to take 20 steps the main one. Anything that must be kept warmed or cooled constantly is going to be a large energy consumer.

I hope others will have additional items to add to the list.

Comments (45)

  • azzalea

    Please add slow cookers to your list. I simply cannot understand why anyone would want to leave food cooking all day--using way more energy than necessary, and cooking all the nutrients out of the food. Anything one can make in a slow cooker, I can make on top of the range--usually in 20-30 minutes--often less. Yes, even stews--if you choose an appropriate cut of meat and buy the good stock that's available today, you can prepare a decent one in around a half hour. Not only that, I cook everything from scratch--so many crockpot recipes seem to use canned soup or other high sodium, high fat convenience foods.

    I also don't understand folks who simply have to have the AC running 24/7. We live in a very humid area (have already had a couple of heat waves in the upper 90's). And we don't have AC at all. My younger neighbors cannot understand that I say we won't be using the central air in the new house we're buying. I really believe they think we don't have AC here because we cannot afford it--not true--we chose not to have it in order to save $$$ and power, but could certainly afford to install and run it if it were important to us.

    Have to take issue a little about those light bulbs. I've got incandescent bulbs in my house that have been going for 5, some for 10 years without needing to be replaced. But every CFL I've tried has burned out in 6 months or LESS. I'm extremely dissatisfied with them, and feel they've been misrepresented greatly. Also--let's say someone has several hundred incandescent bulbs stockpiled because their husband is a packrat (LOL)--wouldn't it be a false economy to toss hundreds of dollars of perfectly good light bulbs, so they could buy ones that cost 5 times as much and last a quarter of the time? Perhaps the houses you see with incandescent bulbs are in the same position--they're not about to go out and buy more light bulbs until they need to. Mind you--we do use CFL's in lights we don't want to get hot. But we haven't been happy enough with them to replace all our lights with them. Especially disliked having to wait 30-60 seconds for the light to come on when I had one on the front porch, and someone would unexpectedly ring the bell after dark.

  • ky114

    Thank you for the additional suggestions and the thoughts on CFLs. The only place I have seen CFLs burn out fast is, at my parents' house, I put them in their kitchen (can lights) and the CFL floods in there do seem to not last as long as they should. I'm guessing it's the heat trapped in that fixture. But they have stuck with them anyway because they like the light quality better (much cleaner-looking) and the power savings are so substantial (104 watts versus 480 watts for eight bulbs).

    If someone has a huge stockpile of incandescent bulbs, I would suggest using them in closets, some bathrooms, and other places where the light is used infrequently and for short periods of time. These are the places where power usage is almost irrelevant because total usage hours are so low. Plus, a CFL is not at its best when frequently turned on and off for short periods.

    For the porch, just get CFLs rated for cold temperatures. I assume that's why you've seem them take a long time to get to full brightness.

    The lifespan rating of an incandescent bulb is about 750 hours - I can't ever recall seeing a CFL not last far beyond that, unless it was dropped and broken. Even those can lights in my parents' kitchen, which tend to be short-lived, go at least 2,500 hours. Brand-wise, I've had good luck with GE and Sylvania, poorer with some of the off-brands. If you were to use CFLs in your most frequently-used lights that are usually turned on and left on for the longest spans of time, I think you will see the CFLs do last far longer than incandescents. Their life will be poorer in fixtures where the heat can't escape and where turned on and off too frequently.

    One additional advantage to consider, since you don't have a/c: An incandescent light bulb is essentially just a little heater. If you have 500 or 600 watts of lighting on in the evening -- easy to do when you add up all the lights in the house -- that adds a significant amount of heat. Going with CFLs would cut that by three-quarters.

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  • budster

    I am sure most of us here on the board see waste around us everyday.....unfortunately not many want to hear us preach about our ideas. Case in point I have a niece and nephew both married and with little ones, and I get complaints about the cost of disposible diapers (and this is just one thing they moan about - there is alot more). Now when I suggested (on more than one occasion) that weekends they use cloth diapers or at home in the evenings - just reducing the number of disposibles they use -- (fingers crossed they would realize it isn't that much more work) they just shake their heads and tell me "You are just too old fashioned and cheap!" So old fashioned and cheap I may be, but I have told them they are making the choices so live with the results.

  • azzalea

    Actully, KY--you'll approve of this. The one light downstairs that I do have a CFL in is the one I use in the evening, in the living room. It's the one light, of all the lights in my house, that gets turned on for several hours at a stretch. I tend not to have a lot of lights on--only turn them on when absolutely necessary. So most of the rest of my lights, all over the house, are the ones that you turn on briefly, then off. I don't even usually turn the bathroom light on at night--I know where everything is--LOL! There's plenty of light from the street to see to get undressed in the bedroom. If I go to the kitchen, I turn the light on, but only for a minute or 2. We rarely use the dining room after dark--other than occasionally having company.

  • cynic

    I'm curious about how much energy would be saved in just one instance. Microwave ovens. Instead of having the clocks and digital controls, use the old fashioned mechanical. Costs less and uses less power. I bought my microwave for $20. It does everything I need it to and it doesn't have the power drain all the while it's not being used.

    Having the TV on and muted while talking on the phone in another room. Running an extra refrigerator. Or a small house using a freezer and throwing out all kinds of stuff because of poor use. What a waste!

    I was looking at the power consumption of the new plasma and LCD TVs. Power consumption when OFF still (on some) would run from 80 watts to 750 watts! While OFF! I couldn't believe it. Now this isn't true on all but I now see how people are shocked with their electric bills when they buy a new TV these days.

    Pilot lights. My sister doesn't use her cooktop very much and she has 2 pilot lights burning non-stop. She could replace the cooktop with a new one with electronic ignition and it would pay for itself in 2-3 years at most, just from the gas consumption of the pilot lights.

    Lawn watering.... washing cars.... unnecessary loads of laundry.... running a/c and putting on sweaters because they're cold and conversely, having the heat so high you have to open a window in the winter. And all the people who make special trips to the store to get one thing. Day in and day out. 99% of those trips are waste.

  • lexi7

    Ky I agree with you about those waste. However, CFLs burned out within a few months here too. I found the box to return the bulbs, but it stated, "Up To Five Years" not guaranteed for five years. Also, if I break a CFL, my house is a hazardous waste dump. If people would research the cleanup procedures before they purchase those things, they would not buy them.
    Other waste I see everyday, those kids rides (horses and cars) outside stores. The ride only lasts a few seconds - what a waste. Speeding cars. Congress should pass the 55 mph again. Plastic bags - we could all take cloth bags to the store. Fireworks.

  • western_pa_luann

    Sorry, but I am not sold on the CFLs either... dubious lifetime + mercury = "I'll pass".

    My nominees for waste: bad driving habits (jackrabbit starts, speeding, etc), lawn fertilizing, lawn watering, daily trips to WalMart, paper products.

  • sylvia55

    Add to that using a tumble dryer on a fine day - and having the AC on at the same time.

  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

    I think most people would save money by not giving in to basic consumer spending/upgrading/materialism than active money saving practices. Just don't go to McDonalds, movie theaters,
    or ice cream parlors.
    Not doing a whole bunch of stuff saves a lot more money than the things we do. Just stay home. Don't feel you have to have a big screen tv, ipod, new car, boat, etc.
    About AC: Having lived for years with out running the ac much, I know for a fact that ac prevents mold and mildew on furniture and helps keep me healthy. When we were first married, we rarely ran the ac. But the house stunk and I would find mildew on all sorts of things. The dry rid buckets I kept in the closet always needed emptying.
    I had sinus trouble all the time.
    We have a different house now but run the ac most of the time (set at 78-79) and what a HUGE difference it makes.
    All the furnishings stay nice and I'm not sniffling.

  • pammyfay

    OK, playing devil's advocate here:
    1) AC: There are circumstances where AC helps not just the house stay "healthy" but also helps people stay healthy. For some people, just having a fan on during the hottest days just doesn't cut it. Personally, my AC usage is gonna take a nice chunk out of my bank account, because my little dog needs it. She pants like crazy even if the ceiling fan is on and her heart looks like it's going to pound out of her body (she has a slight heart issue).

    2) Using the clothes dryer instead of putting clothes out on the line? It's a nice thought; my family used a clothes line when I was growing up and I really liked the fresh smell (until the time I pulled in the clothes and there was a huge bug on something; I dropped everything in the laundry basket and ran inside!). But there are a whole lot of housing developments now that don't allow either a clothes line or even a drying rack out on your deck (I do use a drying rack in the guest bathtub; I just don't like what heat does to many of my clothes, and I hang pants up on pants hangers on the shower-curtain rod right out of the washer).

    3) Pilot lights' energy usage: It's not all that easy to move from gas to electric, my neighbor's experience showed. The appliance store guys delivered the new stove and told her it was up to her to get an electrician to seal up the gas connections and to get the power company out to check it and to get the county out to make sure everything was up to code.

    I just think modern life just comes with a hefty serving of waste. Our office building is reducing its electric usage by doing simple things (dimming lights, having others on motion detectors, having the security folks turn off lights in unused spaces), but when you see the amount of paper in the recycling bins every night, it's eye-opening.

    One other thing: Probably the people who go to WalMart every day or the movie theaters have lower energy bills than other people, cuz they're chilling out there instead of in their own homes!

  • sylvia55

    Good grief - if Brits told we were not allowed to hang out laundry in our backyards, I hope to goodness that we would stamp out that nonsense double quick.

    The authorities would be deluged with Petitions, letters to Parliament and the press & I hope that good old common sense would soon prevail over such an outrageous infringement of our rights.

  • western_pa_luann


    I do think this has been covered before...

    sylvia55... AMERICANS have NOT been told they cannot hang laundry.
    Some individual neighborhoods draw up and CHOOSE to have certain restrictions in THEIR neighborhood ONLY!
    Not their town, or their county, or their state, or their country.... just that neighborhood.

    Has nothing to do with politics, press or even just being American.

    If someone doesn't like a particular neighborhood's rules, they shouldn't move there.
    And, any neighborhood's covenants can be changed if the residents choose to change them.

  • azzalea

    Oh, and speaking of waste--when did it become the norm for people to have so much 'stuff' that their houses won't even hold it?

    What's the deal with the huge storage unit compounds that you see every mile or two along every major highway? If you've got so many things that you can't keep them in your home, something's wrong, if you ask me. It's unbelievable to me that almost every business that goes under, or every barren piece of land that's sold--turns into a storage facility. If people weren't renting them, they wouldn't be cropping up the way they are. Just seems silly to me, to pay money to buy stuff, that you then have to pay money to store, and that you obviously aren't using to the fullest advantage.

  • adellabedella_usa

    Unfortunately, I think that a majority of people in this country relate being frugal to being poor. Frugality is something you practice because you have to not because you want to.

    One waste that has been bugging me this week is my next door neighbors air conditioner that has been running almost non-stop. Since my neigbors are away on vacation this week, I don't understand why the thermostat wasn't turned up to a higher temperature.

    Another source of waste I see is mindless spending on kids. I realize there are exceptions, but I don't understand having yearly birthday parties for kids that cost $200+. Also, I see kids who have the latest gaming systems or are always out participating in some sort of extracurricular/fun type activies. Too bad the kids can't read and don't have all of the supplies they need for school.

  • joyfulguy

    Our provincial government is passing a law telling groups who outlaw clotheslines that such a rule is now illegal.

    ole joyful

  • sylvia55

    Thank you ole joyful, unfortunately in this world most things do depend on politics - even such a lovely simple thing like drying your laundry outdoors! Wish it was otherwise!
    Glad your provincial government have passed this law - I dare say it was down to public pressure???

  • cynic

    The point on the crockpot is interesting and accurate on energy use. I'm skeptical about nutrition loss but that's not the point. However, something like a roaster oven works like an oven (I have a Nesco) and it cycles on and off like an oven and since it's smaller and sized to the use, it will save energy. Now there's always the argument about gas vs electric but I won't go into that.

    Seems to me if someone has a stockpile of hundreds or thousands of light bulbs they have a far bigger problem than whether a light is left on! Paging Dr. Phil... Sorry but the false economy is continued use of the energy waster rather than curing the disease that makes a person a hoarder. That IS a disease. Also, in cases where the bulbs are being used a lot, it is cheaper to throw the old bulbs and buy new. Just like you can often pay for a new refrigerator by energy savings. Not a $5,000.00 frig that a lot of people "must" have these days (another waste) but an energy efficient, properly sized unit to replace an old energy hog. It's hard to throw out a working appliance, or hundreds of light bulbs, cases of canned goods or whatever else the paranoid stockpile out of fear, but if you're truly looking to save money, you have to do some things and change some attitudes.

    And I have to step in here about this raging paranoia about CFLs and mercury. Yes, they have a miniscule amount of mercury in them. But for everyone who uses that as an excuse to not use them, fear them or whatever, do you realize that one coal-fired power plant puts far more mercury into the air in one day than ALL of the CFLs in the world contain, put together? If you don't like them, just say it, but don't use nonsense as rationale. That's like saying I can use the toilet paper tubes for extension cords to justify buying more expensive, small roll toilet paper. Use reason, not rationalization, please.

    BTW, I grew up with mercury thermometers. I still have some! We broke thermometers at home and in school. (HORRORS!!! Mercury thermometers in our SCHOOLS!!) Fer cryin out loud I picked up the mercury with my fingers! I haven't died from "mercury poisoning"! This is another example of overhyped Chicken Little syndrome, just like lead paint, which I grew up with also. And even asbestos to a point. End of this rant.

    And another waste that's a peeve of mine: Buying all this trinket crapola that nobody needs or wants. Souveniers and the like. "I saw this and I thought of you!" Sometimes there's a kind thought in there, but not always. People using it as a rationalization to give in to their need to spend is often the motivator. And how about gift wrap, ribbon and bows? Into the landfills At least gift bags can be reused. Disposeable diapers! Juice boxes. Individually wrapped cheese slices.

    To quote Gomer Pyle: "Wasteful, wasteful, wasteful!"

  • tishtoshnm Zone 6/NM

    I have to say, I would glady idle in a drige through to avoid having to get all 4 kids in and out of the truck (2 of them in car seats)to stand-in-line with aforementioned children. Granted, most things of that nature I save for DH to do while he is in town.

    I am appalled at the waste in construction. When we had our house built, we could have easily filled 2 dumpsters with the waste in dry wall, etc. I was apalled at the number of nails I found around the property. Nails are not expensive, but I am still paying for them will be for many, many years down the road.

    I often question the size of homes. Some people have far much more home than they really utilize. Dh's parents moved from a 1800 sq foot home and bought a 2500 sq foot home to accommodate furniture that goes into rooms they rarely use. All of that space has to be heated/cooled and cleaned. I often have to remind myself that I really don't need more space whenever I begin thinking that it would be nice to add on.

    Another waste that I see is people driving here and there and everywhere to save a little money whether it be for gas or toilet paper. Even if there is a differnece of 10 cents a gallon between the expensive gas station and the cheapest, in my 25-gallon tank, I will have only saved $2.50 which does not even buy me a gallon of gas (or milk for that matter).

    I think that crockpots can be worth it if you know that you will not be home to prepare dinner. The amount of energy used by a slow cooker is still less than a trip to McDonald's.

    I also don't like lights left on at night for any reason, CFL or incandescent. I live in a semi-rural area where the lots are at least 1 acre and too many lights on mean it is harder to see the stars.

  • bonnie_2006

    Are you kidding? The slowcooker is an AWESOME appliance.Its a hundred degrees outside and you want to heat up your house by using the oven or stove?When I get home from a tiring day at work ,and dinner is ready!

  • crnaskater

    Yes, my town (not a neighborhood) does have an ordinance that you cannot have laundry lines in your yard! Umbrella type is acceptable but must be removed before nightfall....

    I only wish my ceilings were as high as my friend in Scotland who has one of those wonderful racks that are on a pulley and lifted up to the ceiling. He doesn't even have a dryer and lives on the 4th floor.

  • Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

    Crockpots usually cook healthier meals than McDonalds too. Unless you get apples and salads.

  • lyfia

    Well CFL bulbs can be a waste of energy if you have to drive somewhere to drop them off as they can't be put in regular trash (now how green are these really?). Nearest for me is 50 miles. I personally don't like the light they give off either, but we also don't keep lights on at night. We only turn on lights when needed. I would definetly start hording incadencents if they were going to stop selling them.

    Slow cookers are not necessarily a waste of energy either. All depends on how you use it. I'd rather use the slow cooker than heat up my kitchen in the summer so the AC have to run so much more to cool things down. Although it may take only 30 min to fix something when you get home at 7:30pm then it would mean not eating until 8pm. 30 min matters at times. As somebody mentioned better than doing the waste in the drive through. Using the slow cooker during the day when we have the AC at a higher setting since we are not home makes more sense as overall the energy used will be less than cooking while home and the extra AC needed to be comfortable with 100 degrees outside and 90% humidity.

    I think waste really depends on what you compare it to. Some might do something you think is wasteful, but depending on where they live or what the alternative is it might not be. However as an overall society I think the US wastes a lot more than any other nation I've visited. I know there are a lot of individuals doing their part, however they appear to be in the minority.

  • cynic

    Here we go again... How green is glass if we should recycle it? How green are aluminum cans if we should recycle them? How green is anything else if we should properly dispose of them? (sigh) Sheesh!

    Somehow I sincerely doubt that you don't have a place closer than 50 miles away to recycle a bulb. And the point of waste is clear if you're going to make a special trip for it!

    Don't like the light they give off? Have you ever gone to a place that has them up and see what the light looks like to see if you would like that light better? I doubt it.

    Clearly this is an issue that is going to be so hysterical that common sense can't prevail. So be it. Feel free to live in fear of a light bulb. And hoard away! No offense, but you're only kidding yourself, and that's fine.

    Another waste, alluded to before, pilot lights. I'm having my water heater replaced. Can't get a standard water heater without a pilot light. Curious. Dryers have been banned from having them for years but water heaters still have them. One person in another forum even argued that it helps keep it dry. Good grief! I would think that the big burner blasting away to heat 40-50 gallons of water would certainly dry more effectively than the pilot light would! But I guess it's that kind of thinking that keeps us spending $8+/month needlessly. Maybe they'll feel compelled to hoard pilot light heaters if they were discontinued too.

    Course, I guess the ones who have a 4000 sq. ft house that could quite easily get by with 1000 sq ft need it to have the space to store the cases of canned beans, Spam, and thousands of rolls of toilet paper! ;)

    (shaking my head in amazement...)

  • lyfia

    cynic - I don't want to argue with you. Yes we went to a store that is 90 miles away and saw them. Even saw them compared by turning on and off two identical lights with a regular bulb and different CFL's we were selecting from. Bought some that we in the store couldn't see a difference with and tried it for a month and didn't like 'em due to odd undertones it created in colors in our house. I gave them to a co-worker after finding out recycling was a pain.

    I can recycle regular bulbs just fine, but not these new ones. The nearest largest town that does take CFL bulbs are 50 miles away to the recycling center, where I then have to pay for them to accept it as I don't reside in that town. I looked into it when I wanted to get rid of them.

    I'm not in fear of a CFL bulbs, but there are certain things I don't like about them like the odd cast everything takes on (reason we got rid of them or how they look, along with the price. I doubt our electric bill sees many kwh due to light bulbs in a year since we rarely have lights on for any longer period of time, so for us its a non-issue and I don't think we see any savings due to the extra cost.

  • sheesh

    I posted this on another forum, but it bears repeating here:

    "I have changed every bulb in my house to CFL over the last several years, including the can lights in the kitchen. In the beginning several failed quickly. I returned them, the store replaced them without a receipt, no questions asked. I haven't had to replace a bulb in years, but when that day comes, the store will take them back for disposal. They go to a hazardous waste facility after that.

    A few months ago our guests and we were having a discussion similar to the one on this thread in our dining room. Our guests were adamant that they would never use CFLs because of lighting color, perceived hum from the bulbs, "it's so hard on my eyes", delay time from flipping the switch to when the light appears, etc. It was hard to be tactful and not embarass anyone in revealing that we had been sitting under CFL light all evening. We then trouped through the house, guests flipping switches and expressing disbelief that THIS was CFL light - "Oh my!"

    I'm serious. It was very revealing to both our guests and us. We hadn't realized the bad blood against CFLs until then, had just changed the bulbs gradually as a matter of being economical both for our family and the earth. We have a lovely, cozy home that is well-lit. We do a lot of reading, and I'm a home sewer. No one would ever guess this house is lit with CFLs, inside and out.

    I can't speak about actual savings from using CFLs instead of incandescent because we have a big family that uses lots of electricity in many ways. But we do try to be conscientious about turning things off, powering down, etc. That night was the only time anyone has ever commented on the lighting in my house.

    I hope I don't have to deal with a broken bulb, but it isn't as involved as you might think, and it doesn't cost anything or involve a hasmat team. Just don't vacuum first. Now that I think of it, I don't think I've ever had a bulb of any type break."

    There are still a lot of drawbacks, but overall, until we have something truly better than CFLs, I think they are a good idea. As for recycling, Home Depot and many other large chains will take back your used bulbs for recycling. They send them to a reclamation depot where the mercury is removed and all other parts are recycled.


  • lyfia

    Sherry - that is good to know about Home Depot. The nearest one is 40 miles so that would be better if there were only one CFL that actually looked good. It made everything look pukey to me. Maybe I just need to repaint and re-upholster our stuff to work with the light bulbs - ok that is a whole other waste.

  • sheesh

    No, no! Don't add waste to reduce it! Don't do it!

    I promise if you switch to CFLs you will never know the difference. It's not a matter of getting used to bad light - they've made much progress in the color so it is very pleasing. You can't tell the difference by being in a room.

    And there will soon be many more collection points, just as there are now (finally!) for cell phones, all electronics and batteries... and toxic stuff like paint and chemicals, used oil, etc.

    I imagine you living on a ranch in the West from the distances you drive. I envy my imaginary vision of you. I am envisioning a "spread" in the foothills of a vast mountain range in Wyoming or maybe Idaho, quiet and pristine. Twice a year you can load up your "rig" and go to town to dump your toxics!


  • ninos

    The waste i saw today as i was outside walking was lots of perfectly good stuff being thrown out. Today is garbage day and i notice perfectly good toys, table, flower pot, baskets and more. Why must these people add to the waste in our planet? The Goodwill store is only 10 blocks away. They could donate their unwanted items. Or better yet they could just leave it outside days before garbage pick up. Someone usually takes your unwanted items. I have done that myself many times. Last month i saw a really cute childrens pretend kitchen. Someones child could get lots of use out of it. How sad!

  • sheesh

    Also, gas stoves and ovens use electronic ignition now, not pilot lights. No need to switch to electric to save pilot gas, but electric ovens reportedly cost less to use if you can bear using an electric cook top. If I could afford it I'd get a gas cooktop with an electric oven. (I have a wonderful gas range now, electronic ignition, 10 years old)

    My 14 year-old gas dryer is electronic ignition, too, but my ancient hot water heater and furnace are still pilot lights. Why is it that eco-friendly, energystar appliances are so much more expensive to buy? Even if the savings are realized over time, some of us can't afford the initial outlay, and that makes me mad.

  • lyfia

    Sherry - we just went through this in May - Are you saying they've improved since then. I just feel like I spent a lot of money wasting a day trip to test them out and to buy a bunch that in my home I just hated.

    LOL We are in TX in a small town where not much is available. We do have one grocery store that thankfully carries a lot of organic stuff. It is hard for this person who originally is from Sweden that has been into green and recycling since it was even thought of for residences in the US to move from Austin TX another green focused area to a small town that just doesn't have the same opportunities and to try to be green has a different meaning altogether due to distances etc.

  • sheesh

    Well, Lyfia, my bulbs are all more than two years old, so I can't say if they've improved since then. As I said in my first post here, my home is nicely lit and and no one can tell we use CFLs. We are very happy with the bulbs - in fact, we never even think about them, and we haven't had to change one in two years.

    They come in different "colors." There are three lights in my bathroom, and one of them is a different color from the others. You can see the difference there, but I'm too lazy to change that one bulb to match the others. I guess I'm not as particular as you are, but I'd bet the ranch that if you visited me, you'd never know I have CFLs. I think you'd think I have a lovely home.

    Texas, eh?

  • western_pa_luann

    I am with you lyfia... don't like the color thrown by the CFLs.

    And, maybe because I am off the beaten path... I have never seen CFLs available in different 'colors' as sherrmann states. The fluorescent tubes come that way, but not regular base light bulbs.

    And I also would have to waste plenty of gas for disposal that is available only in September.

  • greg_h

    You guys do realize that as soon as a CFL burns out, you don't have to jump in your car and speed over to a hazard waste disposal site, right?
    Stick the bulb in a box in your garage and wait until you have enough 'hazardous' material to make the trip worth it.

    And there are definitely different colours with the different brands of CFLs. Typically the really cheap ones have a strange colour that most people associate with fluorescent light, but there are some out there that give off the same light as incandescent.
    Buy several different bulbs and try them out in your house. The ones that you don't like either return to the store or use them in closets or something.

    And keep an open mind. If you are looking for a difference in light quality, you'll see it whether it's there or not.

  • western_pa_luann

    "Buy several different bulbs and try them out in your house."

    Like I said in my post:
    I have never seen CFLs available in different 'colors' as sherrmann states. The fluorescent tubes come that way, but not regular base light bulbs.

    Nice that YOU have options....

  • sheesh

    I could be wrong, but if you have paved roads, electricity, telephone and cell phone service in your area, you probably also have a wide variety of lighting options, including CFLs in different shapes, wattages and colors. And you can probably return used bulbs to the place of purchase or to wherever you take other hazardous waste like paint, oil, batteries, electronics, etc. for disposal.

    If you don't WANT to use CFLs, that's your privilege for the time being. Horde away! I hope you aren't still decorating with stockpiled lead paint and insulating with stockpiled asbestos, though.

  • silversword

    How did a question about wasting turn into a slam-fest? Everyone does things that are wasteful as well as conservative. I still have old lightbulbs that have not burned out yet, and CFLs in the ones that have. I have a plasma TV, a new microwave, a jacuzzi and a crockpot. The crockpot is used around 1-2 times a month and I love it in those instances. I drive a truck, don't have a clothesline and use my air conditioner. I recycle religiously. I conserve water, pick up trash in parking lots, give anything away that could possibly be used again, use freecycle and drag my scrap paper from work home (with my boss's permission)for my daughter to color on. I turn off lights if I'm not in the room. I turn off the water when I brush my teeth. I also fly back to my homestate of Hawaii 2600 miles away(and fly my daughter back) using tons of jet fuel.

    Before we throw stones at our neighbors try googling Al Gore's house and George Bush's house for a shocking comparison of energy waste/conservancy. It just goes to show we all make choices. Acknowledging that we are making a choice when we expend/reduce energy use is the first step towards using less. That person who uses old bulbs and a crockpot may recycle everything, drive 50 miles a month in a tiny car and not use plastic.

    As a side note, I grew up 30 miles from the nearest town, where we didn't have a Wal-mart/Kmart/Costco or anything similar. Due to bad roads it took over an hour to get there, once we made the 1/2 hour trip down our 4wd road to get to the highway. We had catchment tanks for water, and the water went right down the sink and onto the trees on the side, outhouses, solar and kerosene for light. I got my clothes from the "free box" at our local co-op, and we bought our food in bulk. We had no refrigerator/freezer/television/radio/appliances except for a gas stove, and that was used by ten or so people in a community kitchen. The shower was a hose attached to a tree. When we got hot water, it was from a paloma, and we took "Navy" showers. (Some habits die hard, I still take 5 minute showers and turn the water off when shaving, etc). Our homes were made out of recycled lumber and bamboo, with every scrap used. We'd go to town once a week for supplies, and we'd carpool with neighbors to get there.

    You may be imagining someone living like this pre- 1950. I'm 30. I've lived in San Diego for two years now and enjoy having air conditioning. I think that frugality is only as good as quality of life. Awareness and compassion for why people are living the lives they choose is essential. When people tease me for saving every last drop of water I remind them the mentality I grew up with...When you are constantly conscious that the water you are using can be depleted and there is no way to get a water truck to fill the tank up you use a lot less!

    Sorry.... I just grew up more frugal than most people could ever imagine, so the argument about bulbs, etc. is just silly to me. Try using a kerosene lantern at night to do anything. We got everything done during daylight hours, believe me! Wear them until they're standing on their own, then wash clothes by hand, wring them out with a foot powered wringer. Don't use any pesticides, herbicides, anything not organic. Wash your hair with fresh Awapuhi ginger. Live in harmony with the bugs around you... misquitoes, cockroaches (we'd call them B-52 bombers), you name it- and the way we killed them was with our feet and hands. This was in the rainforest, with 100' trees, 1-2' vines, giant tree ferns. There was mold. On everything.

    So, after venting!
    The waste I see every day (personal pet peeves):
    1. Watering giant lawns that no one ever sits on
    2. Private swimming pools
    3. Eating food out of season
    4. Throwing away plastic containers

  • jannie

    What about the proliferation of "storage" places to hold our excess stuff? Stuff we can't keep in our homes but don't want close to us. Shouldn't everyone who rents a storage unit think twice about what's in there? If it's so precious and valuable, it shgould be used. If not, it should be donated or thrown away.

  • triciae


    "If it's so precious and valuable, it shgould be used. If not, it should be donated or thrown away."

    That's one of those blanket statements that irk me so much, have potential to cause hurt feelings, & serve no useful purpose.

    What about the small business that doesn't have office/warehouse space for all of their supplies/inventory? Mini-storage facilities work well for small business owners. What about people in flux with moving from one home to another? Many people live in apartments with no storage or garage space yet they still enjoy riding a bike, surfing, skiing, golfing, and other activities that require bulky equipment storage? I can think of many more examples but you get the point. Oh, here's another example for you. This one may really get your goat! I have a friend who 'time shares' a horse. Yep, time shares a horse. Anyway, she doesn't have a place to store tack so she rents a storage unit to keep her saddles, bridles, blankets, grooming equipment, boots, & other such stuff. Should she give up her much loved equestrian activities 'cause she lives in a one-bedroom condo? She's being far more frugal & conscious of her environmental footprint by living in a small space & renting just the additional storage she needs rather than increasing her home square footage & tossing the saddle in the back bedroom, right?

    Actually, we have a small storage facility. I'm an amateur genealogist. It's a hobby that accummulates a tremendous amount of paper...more than I have room to store in our small home. I don't store it in the garage because I want it climate controlled (very old original documents). I've published one book & nearing completion on a second. Keeping my research notes & sources in good order is an important part of genealogy. Should I just toss everything because they don't fit in the hall closet? I think not. Or, would you have me cease & desest my genealogy because it uses paper? My working data is, of course, all on the computer; but the back-up proof of births, deaths, marriages, & other vital records are all computers in 1712.

    We also haven't switched to CFLs & if Congress gets its act together we won't be required to make the switch...thank goodness. I have lupus & take immune suppresant drugs. I might as well sit outside with no sunblock if I have to use CFLs inside my home. It's my understanding though from the Lupus Foundation that there will be medical exceptions by the time that law goes into affect. Once again, blanket judgmental statements make one seem needlessly foolish.

    It's just wrong to be so judgmental without knowing people's circumstances. Judge not lest you be judged.

    The waste I see most frequently of our natural resources is brain power. I seem to encounter a relunctance of people to utilize critical thinking skills if not on a daily basis...certainly once a week. The cost is enormous. Ask any business owner about their difficulties in locating good employees who are able to think & then execute...they'll go off on a two-hour rant. IMO, we need to address that issue as a nation before we stand a chance of solving global warming.


  • cynic

    As you object to a blanket statement, I also object to yours. Sure there's a small percentage of storage facilities that are frugally and rationally justified but c'mon, let's not get so thin-skinned that we overlook the number of people storing flat out crap in these things and anyone suggesting that that's not so is just plain wrong IMO.

    I know you meant it otherwise, but can't resist, if a business needs a storage place for supplies then either they're hoarding pencils and paper or if they truly go through that much, they need a bigger office. Shuttling back and forth is wasteful, I think at least most would agree.

    Many would suggest renting the saddles etc, perhaps the boats that people store, and other things. But this society is a society of I want my OWN! Which of course is why we see the bulk of rush hour being one person vehicles.

    I've never heard that Lupus people can't be in fluorescent lighting. I know several people with Lupus and funny that they've never mentioned it. I guess I'll need to do some research on this and let them know.

    So now to an obligatory on topic peeve: People that tell me I should get a front load washer to "save water" when they're running their sprinklers 24/7, plopping into a jacuzzi, swimming pool and washing their cars 3 or 4 times a week. Just want to tell these hypocrites to take a flying leap! LOL

  • scarlett2001

    Waste? Our elected representatives in Congress beginning their annual 5 week vacation.

  • triciae

    "Sure there's a small percentage of storage facilities that are frugally and rationally justified but c'mon, let's not get so thin-skinned that we overlook the number of people storing flat out crap in these things and anyone suggesting that that's not so is just plain wrong IMO."

    As a banker, I've made dozens of loans to these rental facilities. Your above statement is inaccurate based on my experiences over 20-25 years. Yes, you're right that some are used for excess of stuff of everyday folks. But that is not the norm. A few types of businesses that utilize storage facilities are: Mary Kay; Avon; accountants; attorneys; insurance agents; restaurants (that's where they store the boxes & boxes of ketchup packets! The storage is much cheaper than expanding the restaurant square footage & allows them to purchase in larger quantities saving on both unit cost & shipping fees.); independant electricians/plumbers/handymen often have storage facilities in several locations around their service areas; beauty shops; and probably over 50% of Mom/Pop businesses (they store their receipts/files/invoices, etc. in climate-controlled spaces). Of the leases I've reviewed for loans on mini-storage facilities less than 10% of those leases were to individuals wishing to store old baby clothes.

    "...if a business needs a storage place for supplies then either they're hoarding pencils and paper or if they truly go through that much, they need a bigger office. Shuttling back and forth is wasteful, I think at least most would agree."

    Quite obviously you have never owned & operated a small business for any length of time. The above is an utterly ridiculous statement.

    It would be outrageously expensive to rent tack twice/week for years now wouldn't it? Besides, saddles are personal things...they get so they're like a pair of old favorite shoes.

    Yes, you should learn something about Lupus & its various forms before passing any judgment. Not every Lupus case is the same. Some are much more severe than others. Some involve vital organs. Others do not. Some people get rashes. Others do not. Some are easily controlled. Others take chemo cocktails like Placquenil/Methotrexate or Celcept & just hope to be able to walk out to get the mail without assistance. For some, it's a lifelong chronic condition. For others, it's a fatal disease.


  • Marcia Thornley

    I hate seeing garbage put out in plastic bags that are only half full. If you can't fill it, don't put it out until you can. Hopefully you recycle and it will take several weeks to fill a bag!
    Junk mail and flyers that get delivered and immediately tossed out in the garbage.
    Over packaging is my big pet peeve. It is not necessary to wrap everything in cardboard and then seal it in plastic as well.
    You buy a new set of scissors and if you don't have old ones at home you can't get them out of the package! There are many items that don't need any packaging at all.

  • caflowerluver

    I live in CA where it doesn't rain from May to Nov. and we have had less then the usual rainfall for the last 2 years. I see no reason for lawns and private swimming pools which waste a huge amount of water.

  • scryn

    I hope we are never forced to use cfl's.

    My husband and I filled our house with them and used them until last year. Our light in front of the house went out and when my husband went to replace it he found that the CFL had burnt out and melted. He had heard about this happening and starting fires but never thought too much about it until then.

    The plastic part that the glass attached to was melted and black. We are lucky that nothing happened.

    We have removed the CFLs from all fixtures that are used when we are not around (some exterior lights) or lights that we may just forget to turn off (rare, but it can happen if we are rushing around!)

    I was so disappointed that we had spent money on these bulbs and they may not be safe. Now we still look for them but are always looking for bulbs that are not manufactured in China. We haven't found one.

    I do have a question about water and swimming pools. We have a pool, which i hate but it came with the house. I don't consider it wasting water because you never empty it or refill it. During the winter you don't drain it either. I was just wondering if people knew that. This is true for both in-ground and above-ground pools.
    Now, if you were debating that they waste a lot of electricity I would agree with you about that!! Although we don't have AC, so the pool probably uses less money than AC would. I would love to fill in our stupid pool but it costs over 5000 dollars to do that! yikes! it probably cost that to put it in!

    I have an issue with co-workers buying coffee everyday and using paper cups. The coffee place will let you use your own travel mug but my co-workers won't do that because they don't want to wash the mug! isn't that crazy!? I told them I don't wash mine everyday (i just rinse it quick) but they still don't want to do it.


  • scarlett2001

    It's great that people are tying to do their bit to save waste, but unless the folks running the government (and this is an equal-opportunity slam at both parties in the USA) stop wasting on a monumental scale and start addressing these problems seriously, we are just attempting to empty the ocean with a teaspoon.

    CA, along with 5 other USA states, is now suing the Environmental Protection Agency, a federal agency that is supposed to be HELPING us with waste and pollution, because the EPA refuses to enforce the clean air standards. Unfortunately, the length of this process is unimaginable.

    So my waste-saving activity for now, along with doing all the small things I can at home and work, is to write and email my elected reps to try to wake them up, right after their 5 week vacation is over and before their holiday recess. I'm tired of waiting for government to do its job, this is going to have to come from the ground up.

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