CFL, no — LED, yes 

Short answer: no.

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You can find the complete archives of Ask Renee questions and answers through Feb. 29, 2016, by clicking here for

Can CFLs be recycled?



I know I’ve mentioned CFLs as a more efficient option to incandescent bulbs, but there are a couple of drawbacks. For starters, CFLs are not only NOT RECYCLABLE, they actually contain mercury which is hazardous and must be taken to a ToxDrop or Household Hazardous Waste collection [] to be disposed of properly. If a CFL is ever broken in your home, you should carefully follow cleanup and disposal directions.

A trusted source shed a little light on drawback number two for me:

“…[I]t’s also a farce that these bulbs result in energy savings to any real degree. Any first year electrical student can prove that unless you are leaving the lights on for extended periods then these actually use more energy than incandescent bulbs. How does that work, you ask? Fluorescent bulbs (and some other industrials) are started with a ballast. The ballast actually uses more energy until it warms up and then the power curve levels off. At this point there is less energy consumption but you have to leave the bulb on to average the curve back below the incandescent power curve, which is a flat line. The incandescent uses the same amount of power, albeit less efficiently, from the first light until you turn it off. So, when consumers replace bulbs with CFLs in closets and bathrooms where they don’t spend much time, they are actually using more power turning them on and off for brief periods of time. As if the environmental impact wasn’t enough, that’s strike two for me.”

So, no to recycling incandescent and CFL bulbs, and for now it would be wise to replace them with LEDs.

Piece out,


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Renee Sweany

Renee Sweany

Renee has spent the past several years surrounding herself with like-minded people who share her passion for caring for the planet. She began writing “Ask Renee” after four years of offering green tips through her e-newsletter Green Piece Indy. E-mail her your green living queries at

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