How many Episcopalians does it take to change a light bulb?

The Diocese of Ohio has challenged all congregations and Episcopalians to take a small action for the earth's environment. They will exchange incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescents according to Phina Borgeson reporting for Episcopal Life Online:

Sixty of 95 congregations have exchanged their incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescents (CFLs) so far this summer in the Diocese of Ohio’s “How Many Light Bulbs Does it Take to Change an Episcopalian?” campaign to reduce its carbon footprint.

“That’s 5,431 bulbs,” reports intern Andy Barnett. He estimates that when the bulb exchange is completed it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3,640,000 pounds and mercury emissions by more than 41,000 milligrams over the next nine years. It will also bring savings of more than $298,700.

Barnett, a recent graduate of Oberlin College, has been contacting churches, collecting orders for CFLs, and working with volunteers to deliver bulbs and recycling stations to churches.

Bishop Mark Hollingsworth, Jr. of the Diocese of Ohio challenged all the Episcopal congregations in northern Ohio to replace as many incandescent bulbs as possible with CFLs. He also invited every parishioner in his diocese to try CFLs in the five most-used light fixtures in their homes.

Deacon Phina Borgeson is Episcopal Life Media correspondent for FEAST, the reporting series on Faith, Environment, Advocacy, Science and Technology. She is based in Santa Rosa, California.

Read it all here.

What is your congregation doing to "go green"?

Church Publishing is releasing for Fall 2008
How Many Lightbulbs Does It Take To Change A Christian?
Check it out here.

Comments (5)

I appreciate the sentiment but considering that CFLs are full of mercury, linked to autism, and that one must clear the room for a while if you drop and break one, I'll wait until something really more ecological comes along.

We did quite a bit of research on the mercury problem before we began the project. Here's what we found (info from EPA): When we replace incandescent bulbs with CFLs, we actually reduce mercury pollution. Each CFL holds 4 milligrams (mg) of mercury, about the size of the dot on this "i" or the amount of mercury in a couple of cans of tuna fish. Non-broken bulbs emit no mercury, and you can safely clean up a broken bulb in four steps: open a window, sweep up large pieces, pick up small pieces with sticky tape, and collect the waste in a sealed container like a zip-lock bag for recycling.

Because 90% of Ohio's electricity comes from mercury-emitting coal plants, and because CFLs use 75% less electricity, we use less electricity and burn less coal when we use CFLs. That's very good news for the climate, and it means these bulbs contribute to a net reduction of mercury in the biosphere, even if they were to be improperly disposed of in landfills.

We can keep that mercury out of landfills when we recycle the bulbs through municipal and county agencies and EPA approved vendors. We have identified for each church a nearby collection station, and provide directions for recycling bulbs. We've also asked the churches to become recycling centers for their communities. For more information about mercury and recycling, go to:

Martha Wright, Communications Officer,
Diocese of Ohio


Wow. Your diocese has been thorough both on defusing misinformation about mercury and in the details of finding nearby collection sites for churches.

Thanks for your comment.

We used to play with mercury from broken thermometers when we were kids!!

Thanks; I did read that about mercury emissions but this speaks for itself: can safely clean up a broken bulb in four steps: open a window, sweep up large pieces, pick up small pieces with sticky tape, and collect the waste in a sealed container like a zip-lock bag for recycling.

As opposed to simply sweeping up an ordinary bulb and throwing it away.

All that work may make some feel good that they're helping the environment but most people won't be sold on it.

And why blow more resources on more zip-lock bags?

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