Thursday, March 05, 2009

Light Bulb Horrors

We move on from the memory foam mattress, folks, to the light bulb horrors. When and why did life become so complicated? I'm not sure what the situation is in the rest of the world, but our masters in Europe have, with the connivance of our government, inflicted the low energy lightbulb upon us. Now I'm as eco friendly as the next woman. In fact I suspect my carbon footprint is a good deal lower than most. I seldom fly, I run a very small and efficient car, my house is usually pretty cool (I can't really afford to heat it adequately) and I recycle as much of my rubbish as it's possible to fit into the assorted bins and boxes provided by my council. Moreover, most of my wardrobe these days seems to consist of 'vintage' pieces, also recycled from various sources. (It's pretty stylish. Where did you get that wonderful coat, somebody asked me last week. Actually, I got it from a local charity shop, for a fiver. It must have sat in somebody's wardrobe, hardly worn, since the 1950s. It's beautiful, but that's another story...) Anyway, to resume our tale of lightbulbs...
Europe has dictated that we shall not have old fashioned lightbulbs. Never mind that the new variety contain mercury, inflict health problems on those of a sensitive disposition and are downright dangerous for the visually impaired. We must do our bit to save the planet. And we have been given no choice in the matter. Meanwhile, visit any UK city and see the government departments, the banks, the big business headquarters positively ablaze with light, throughout the night....
A few days ago, the upstairs hall lightbulb having expired, we replaced it with a new energy- saving bulb from a local branch of Morrisons supermarket - one of those curly spirally things. Going up to bed later that night, I found myself wondering about two things: why my eyes were sore after just a few seconds exposure to the hideous yellow light which the thing gave off - and why my red staircarpet seemed suddenly leeched of all colour. Then it clicked. These are the bulbs which a certain chain store uses in their lavatories, and you know why they use them in their lavatories? I'm reliably informed that - apart from their singular cheapness - the real reason has little to do with saving the planet, but mostly because the quality of light deters junkies from 'shooting up'. They can't find a vein. Which may be a very good reason for installing them in chain store loos, but not in my upstairs hallway thank-you.
I have now, by devious means, found a shop which still sells the old banned bulbs. And I am stockpiling. I feel a bit like a junkie myself, searching for a fix. If I manage to get my hands on enough of them, I figure they will see me out. Or at least they will last till the technology improves. (But I'm not telling you the whereabouts of the shop - at least not until I buy a few more for my own store-cupboard. For God's sake, get some for me too, said a friend on the phone tonight) Actually, the day when the technology improves may well be closer than I think. I'm told there is something called an 'eco-bulb' which gives out pure, bright, white light, at a fraction of the cost. The only trouble is that the bulbs themselves, even when bought on eBay, cost a small fortune. Not a lot for Sir Fred, perhaps - his house is probably chocca with the things - but quite a lot for me. A tiny price to pay, you may say, for saving the planet. And you may well be right. But perhaps if our government offices, national and local, used them as well as all our big businesses, our banks even, the price might go down so that the rest of us could actually afford to buy them for ordinary domestic use. Meanwhile, I'm locking my hoard of the lovely, shapely, soft old lightbulbs away where nobody else will find them.

1 comment:

Janice said...

I am SO with you on the light bulb issue, Catherine. My At Home Hero has put an energy saving bulb in the bathroom and you can't 'nip in and out' anymore as it takes half an hour for the blooming thing to light up!

Janice