05/27/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Hey Mister Mayor, Shed Some Light for Us

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,

I see you have just implemented new green guidelines for New York City.

I applaud you for your eco-consciousness. Just want to give you a heads up about a little issue with those compact fluorescent light bulbs.

You see, Mayor Bloomberg. I live in a green house in Manhattan, and therefore, as an eco-conscious homeowner, I went out and bought CFL's for nearly every light fixture in my house. I did not give it a second thought. I wanted to save energy, and the planet, and change bulbs less frequently. I even wrote a book about living in green houses and touted the virtues of CFL's.

But a short time ago, I arrived home to find a broken bulb on my closet floor. And when I looked up the government prescribed procedures for the cleanup (knowing the bulbs contained Mercury) I was gob smacked. The cleanup is one big, scary sounding ordeal based on federal energy star guidelines. And the broken bulb is supposed to be sealed in glass and labeled as toxic before it is disposed of. My LEED AP architect husband Paul Gleicher cleaned up the broken bulb according to the guidelines.

When I wrote a Huffington Post blog on the issue this week, it created a wave of argument from folks who think it's nuts to have bulbs with Mercury to those who say the amount per bulb is so small there's no reason for all of the fuss.

Then I looked on a new bulb package to see the size of the warning label, and it makes a postage stamp look like a football field. So now that millions of people are going to be required to use these bulbs, which could put a lot more Mercury into our waste systems, what are you going to do about it?

Could someone at City Hall please clear up the confusion?

Yours truly,
Lisa Sharkey
Author, Dreaming Green