In recent years, LED light bulbs have begun to pose a huge threat to Standard Incandescent, Halogen Incandescent, and Compact Fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs. LED lightbulbs are reported to not contain mercury, have a significantly longer lifespan, and also save homeowners a note-worthy amount of money over time. The promise of quality and savings may persuade consumers to purchase one of these remarkable LED lightbulbs at $20-$50, over a $0.60 Incandescent. However, one might question if there are any other cons beside the obvious increase in price. Welcome to the Dark Side! According to a study published in 2010 by the journal, Environmental Science and Technology, researchers found that LEDs contain lead, arsenic, and a dozen other potentially dangerous substances. Thus, making the high praising conversation around these energy efficient lightbulbs a possible attempt to hide the unpleasant facts in an environmental context, also known as “green washing.” Green washing is when a company or organization spends more money and time claiming to be “green” through advertising and marketing, than actually conducting business practices that minimize environmental impact. In the case of LED lightbulbs, the pros to seem to outweigh the cons as the bulbs still prove to be the best choice on the market for energy savings, light quality, and environmental footprint. Also, in today’s society, some form of lighting is a necessity. The example of greenwashing in regards to LED lighting poses a need to change in readily available and factual information. The risks of the LED bulbs should be readily available to consumers along with the benefits. At this time, one thing remains unchanged and that is that LED bulbs have replaced unsafe options with a “better” unsafe option.
As scientists work to invent a better lightbulb, a positive alternative may be appear simpler than that. Solar lighting and natural sunlight would present as a safer and more energy efficient system to receiving light all together. However, as the majority of homes in America are electrically wired, and solar panelling systems are costly, this would require a transformation on many levels. A political transformation would have to take place to provide more encouragement and assistance with taking this route in home lighting. A social transformation would have to take place as society as a whole would need to slow down and see the benefits of solar lighting. An economic transformation would need to occur to make the systems more affordable and attainable for all classes. A technological transformation would also need to occur in order to transition homes from electrical wiring to solar power systems in an affordable and convenient way. Technically speaking, this is not impossible and could occur one day. I believe however, that this is a slow transition that has already begun to take place. This will take many years and many transformational events to become common place in the lighting of American homes.
Written by Dallas Smith