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WMEAC sheds light on energy efficiency with Project Light Change

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Many Grand Rapidians are in the dark when it comes to the use of energy efficient compact flourecent light bulbs (CFLs), but the West Michigan Environmental Action Council looks to “change” that with this summer's Project Light Change initiative.

Project Light Change is a grassroots community outreach program created to help Grand Rapidians make changes that lower their energy consumption. The program will distribute approximately 20,000 CFLs to targeted neighborhoods within the Grand Rapids community.

The project, which began this month and runs until the end of August, is funded by “Energy Dollars” from the Michigan Public Service Commission which provides organizations like the WMEAC with grants to promote energy efficiency.

Educating area residents about CFL bulbs and energy efficiency are the main goals of Project Light Change, according to Ann Erhardt who manages the project for the WMEAC. The bulbs are distributed through community groups such as churches, food pantries and other neighborhood organizations that assist in identifying which households are in need of CFLs.

Erhardt, who has been working on the project since last October is excited by the response to the project thus far.

“There is a great need for energy efficiency and an even greater need for residents to be aware,” Erhardt said.She  is also encouraged by the sizable increase in CFL sales throughout Michigan over the last several years.

According to the EnergyStar Website, CFLssave about $30 over its lifetime and pay for itself in about 6 months. It uses 75 percent less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.” WMEAC estimates that the project will save Grand Rapids community approximately $940,000 and preventing 21,085,000 pounds of carbon dioxide equivalents. 

Brochures distributed with each CFL state that “household waste in Kent County is primarily sent to a waste incinerator. CFLs disposed of in this manner result in airborne emissions of mercury directly in the local community." Project Light Change hopes to educate area residents on the importance of recycling CFLs.

Visit Access Kent for more information about recycling programs in Kent County, from drop-off sites to curbside recycling.

Recycling Centers in Your Area:

  • Home Depot
    • All area locations
  • Lowe's
    • All area locations
  • Kent County Hazardous Waste Program
    • Kentwood – 5068 Breton Road
    • Rockford – 2908 10 Mile Road
    • Wyoming – 2350 Ivanrest SW
    • Grand Rapids – 1500 Scribner
      • Call (616) 336-2570 for Saturday drop off schedule or for a weekday appointment.


Quick stats provided by WMEAC – CFLs are better because they...

  • Save you money on utility bills - $30 or more over the life of each bulb!

  • Use approximately 75% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs

  • Improve air and water quality while helping to prevent climate change

  • Reduce power plant emissions of mercury, carbon dioxide, and other pollutants

  • Are perfect for hard to reach fixtures – they last 10-13 times longer (about five years)

  • Allow us to use less fossil fuels and are recyclable in your community


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