Pure Waste Challenge - Read, Commit, Act: the CFL Edition


The Hinkle Charitable Foundation (HCF) has issued the "Pure Waste Challenge" to help motivate individuals everywhere to become agents against global warming. For just a little work on your end, you can help turn the tide against global warming, and help fund a worthy organization at the same time.

Here's how it works: read the first of three primers on quick 'n easy actions that'll help reduce your carbon footprint and validate that you will consider pursuing them with an email confirmation to purewaste(at)thehcf(dot)org. For each person who reads the following primers (one today; the other two will follow this week) and considers pursuing them, HCF will donate $100 to the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), a great non-profit organization that simultaneously fights global poverty and climate change.


SELF’s primary mission is to bring solar power and modern communications to rural villages in the developing world. In many instances, SELF’s installations are directed to education, health and irrigation facilities and can include joint ventures, where local participants invest in a portion of the project. Providing solar electric power to remote, off-grid people frees them from the unpalatable alternatives of either using kerosene-generated power (which is both bodily and environmentally dangerous) or living with no electricity, no lights, no irrigation possibilities, and no connection to the outside world.

Here's the first primer, all about compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs -- get more info about them in our Green Basics column about them). Regular TreeHugger readers might find some repetition here; if you know this stuff already, forward it on to someone who doesn't. SELF and the people in the developing world who benefit from their work will thank you.

Fluorescent light bulbs get a bad,and badly outdated, rap. Technological advances in the last twenty years have introduced the compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) with electronic ballast and, in the process, have eliminated three of the four most common objections to fluorescent lights.

Myth 1: Fluorescent lights flicker.

Yep, they used to. Modern CFLs, with their electronic ballasts, do not flicker.

Myth 2: Fluorescent lights are slow to start.

While CFLs don’t start at full intensity like incandescent bulbs, nearly all CFLs turn on (without flicker) instantly and reach full illumination very quickly.

Of the nearly thirty different types we’ve tested, all come on instantly at close to full illumination. Only the flood light styles start at noticeably less than full illumination, but within 20 to 30 seconds they are at over 80% illumination. Interestingly, we’ve come to prefer softer initial illumination. When we enter a room the slightly softer initial illumination is more welcoming, and the CFL is easily at full illumination by the time we begin any light-dependent tasks.

Myth 3: Fluorescent lights are always cold-feeling and remind us of office lighting.

Older, standard, long fluorescent tubes do emit a cool (bluish) light (4,500+ Kelvin), but today there are CFLs in a complete range of hues, and many CFLs are available that produce exactly the same warm white light (2,700 to 3,000 Kelvin) as traditional incandescent bulbs.

Myth 4: Fluorescent lights won’t fit in my fixtures, candelabra, or recessed lights.

We agree, that this can still be a problem in certain situations. A CFL is often not an exact size substitute for an existing incandescent bulb, but a far greater range of sizes is available than is generally realized. We’ve already successfully substituted standard, globe, flood, candelabra, threeway and dimmable bulbs. To get the widest range of shapes, it is often necessary to shop online or at a lighting store.

Once you read the three primers (available here), if you agree to commit yourself to taking these three initial, though not lifestyle-changing actions, then send a confirming email to purewaste(at)thehcf(dot)org with your name and e-mail address where you'd like the acknowledgment sent, and the Hinkle Charitable Foundation will make a grant to SELF. We'll take a closer look at the other two soon, but you certainly don't have to wait for us to write the email.

::Hinkle Charitable Foundation and ::SELF present the ::Pure Waste Challenge

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