TeachingGreen logo
Green Living News
August 2008
In This Issue
Eco-Gadgets & Innovations
Did You Know?
Myth Busters
L.A. Confidential
Worth Your Time
Support TeachingGreen
Join Our Mailing List!
Quick Links

Welcome to the August 2008 edition of TeachingGreen's Green Living News, a monthly newsletter for folks interested in creating a more sustainable society through individual actions and beyond.

Inside this issue of Green Living News:
  • The low-down on compact fluorescent lights (the mercury issue, disposal, when to turn off, etc)
  • Two more workshops from TeachingGreen
  • An award-winning show about a little-known phenomenon called global dimming...definitely worth your time
  • Three ways you can support TeachingGreen
...and more!

Eco-Gadgets & Innovations

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs
Compact Fluorescent bulb
You've probably heard by now that one of the simplest things you can do to save energy is to start replacing your traditional incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). They are a little more expensive than incandescents, but CFLs:
  1. use at least 75% less energy
  2. last up to 10 times longer
  3. save $30 over the life of the bulb in energy costs
  4. burn much cooler, reducing fire risk
So why isn't everyone racing to replace all their old bulbs with CFLs? We discuss one reason here.


A common argument against choosing compact fluorescent light bulbs over
incandescent bulbs is that they contain mercury. It's true, they do, but by the time the bulbs have expired, a typical incandescent bulb is responsible for at least twice as much environmental mercury as a typical CFL.

Why? Because incandescents use about four times more electricity than CFLs, and burning coal for electricity is the main source of mercury emissions in the U.S. When coal is burned at a power plant, mercury is released into the air, and then is deposited either directly or indirectly into surface waters, such as oceans, lakes and rivers (where of course, it gets into the food web, of which humans are very much a part).

It is true that CFLs themselves do contain some mercury - on average, 4 milligrams per bulb, which is why they must be properly disposed of and not thrown in the trash (see next section for details). But what to do if one should break in your home or office? First, be proactive. Visit www.epa.gov and print out the Environmental Protection Agency's step-by-step instructions for cleaning up a broken CFL. Then, should you find yourself confronting a broken CFL bulb, remain calm, and consider the fact that a broken CFL releases at most 0.34 milligrams of mercury, and that OSHA's permissible mercury vapor in the workplace is 0.1 milligram per cubic meter (that's many times smaller than the average room).

Considering this, and the information in the next section, we hope you'll agree that there's no reason to choose the old incandescent bulbs over CFLs. If you decide to make the switch, start replacing the most frequently used light bulbs in your house with CFLs, and watch with amazement as your electric bill shrinks!
Did You Know?

Some interesting tidbits about compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs):

  • You can now recycle unbroken CFLs at all Home Depot locations; just give them to the store associate at the returns counter
  • According to the Earth Policy Institute, if every American household switched over to CFLs, the U.S. could close 80 coal-fired power plants.
Myth Busters: Energy

Fluorescent Lights

: Leaving a fluorescent light turned on is cheaper than turning it on and off.

Fact: Frequently turning a fluroescent light on and off does shorten the bulb's life somewhat, but so does leaving the bulb on all the time.

Fact: Modern fluorescent bulbs do draw a higher level of current during startup, but the surge usually lasts only about a tenth of a second and consumes about as much energy as five seconds of normal operation.

Good Rule of Thumb: Any fluorescent light should be turned off if it won't be used for five minutes or more.
L.A. Confidential

Upcoming events and career opportunities in and around Los Angeles:

TeachingGreen Workshops:

Making Your Home a Friend to Mother Nature

Date: Sunday, August 10, 2008
Time: 10:30am - noon
Location: Mar Vista Farmers' Market, 3826 Grand View Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Cost: FREE (Thank you MVCC!)

Your home represents an amazing opportunity to green your life because most everything involved with running a household affects the environment in one way or another. Learn how to make your home a model of sustainability, inside and out, and give the Joneses something meaningful to keep up with.

Note: This is the third in a series of four workshops, but each workshop is a self-contained event, so don't worry if you missed the first two.

Stemming the Tide of Toxics and Trash

Monday, August 18, 2008
Time: 7:00 - 8:30pm
Location: Whole Foods Market Torrance; 2655 PCH Torrance 90505
Cost: Suggested donation of $5Whole Foods logo

Do more than you ever thought possible to stem the flow of natural resources to landfills, and to keep toxics out of your life and the environment. Topics covered include paper, plastic, toxic chemicals in the home and universal waste.

Note: This is the final workshop in the series, but we'll be running the series again starting on September 17 (same location).

For more info, visit www.teachinggreen.org.

LA Green Drinks

Relax, have a drink, make new friends, network and share ideas with others interested in environmental issues.

LA Green Drinks - West Side: 1st Thursday of the month
LA Green Drinks - South Bay: 2nd Thursday of the month
LA Green Drinks - West Hollywood/Silver Lake: 3rd Thursday of the month
LA Green Drinks - Valley: 4th Thursday of the month

For more information, visit: lagreendrinks.blogspot.com.

The Future is Green Conference and Expo

Date: September 14-16, 2008
Time: All day
Location: Long Beach Convention Center
Cost: See rates (eary bird rates expire August 20)

The Future is Green Conference & Expo will showcase clean air and low carbon energy and transportation technologies and the environmental and economic benefits they bring to our community and planet. The event will feature panel sessions focusing on the latest developments in environmentally friendly technologies, and nearly 100 exhibitors featuring green technologies and products from major auto manufacturers to eco-friendly consumer companies. It will also provide useful information about possible investment opportunities offered by green markets.

For more information, visit: www.capcoagreen.com.

Job Opening: Division Director for Build It Green

Build It Green seeks a Division Director to establish a Build It Green satellite office in Southern California and expand Build It Green programs in the region. Key priorities will be to expand the presence of GreenPoint Rated and Build It Green Professional Training programs and extend the Build It Green network of councils and guilds.

Build It Green is a professional non-profit membership organization whose mission is to promote healthy, energy and resource-efficient buildings in California.

For more detailed information about this job, the required qualifications and experience, and application procedures, visit www.builditgreen.org.

Worth Your Time

Dimming the Sun

Compact Fluorescent bulbThis hour-long episode from NOVA explores new evidence that air pollution and contrails from jet aircraft have masked the full impact of global warming, indicating that the world may soon face a heightened climate crisis.

Air date: TONIGHT, Tuesday, August 5


Support TeachingGreen

Three ways you can help:

1. Bring us your people

Actually, we'll come to you.Compact Fluorescent bulb

In addition to public workshops, we also give presentations for groups, schools, and businesses. Are you a member of a community group, alumni group, Mom's group, church group, or any other kind of group? Have a business you're trying to green and want to get your employees on board?

If so, we would love to come and give a presentation or two for your group! We give presentations on specific issues, such as transportation, food and household toxics, and we also offer a general overview of sustainable living.

Visit www.teachinggreen.org to learn more and to request a presentation.

2. Bring a reusable bag to Whole Foods Market Torrance

Through the end of September, when you shop at the Whole Foods Market in Torrance (corner of PCH and Crenshaw) using your reusable bags, you can donate your "Wooden Nickle" to TeachingGreen. We get 5 cents for every Wooden Nickle donated. Might not sound like much, but it adds up!

3. Become a member of TeachingGreen

We are a 501(c)3 organization, so all donations are fully tax-deductible. Your support helps us spread the message of sustainability via workshops, presentations, our wesite and this newsletter. We currenlty operate only in Los Angeles, but even if you don't live here, remember that when we act locally, we help the global environment as well as the local environment.

To make a tax-deductible donation to TeachingGreen, click here.

TeachingGreen is a 501(c)3 organization, and as such, we depend on tax-deductible donations from treehuggers like you! If you'd like to become a member, see the Quick Links above.

We hope you find this newsletter helpful and informative, and should you have any suggestions, questions or general comments, we'd love to hear from you.

Kathleen Jacecko