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Why I’ll never buy another compact fluorescent light bulb

cflFarewell compact fluorescent light bulbs. You served us well. Rest in peace.

I remember 25 years ago I was working for a solar company (Real Goods) and we sold some of the first compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs that were ever made. They had a big wide base that made them hard to fit in most fixtures. They flickered. They took a while to come on. And they cost $25 each. Still, they used 75% less power than a regular light bulb and since we were one of the only places to obtain these energy efficient bulbs, people called us regularly to have them shipped by mail to their residence. Even at $25 a pop, they paid for themselves.

My how things have changed! CFLs fill the shelves of Walmart and the grocery stores and they’re about a buck a piece. It’s getting hard to even find the old type of energy-hog bulbs.

It’s great to see CFLs take over, and a lot less energy is being wasted as a result. But CFLs are not perfect. They contain mercury and are supposed to be disposed of properly but many of them end up in the landfill. Along with the lower price, the quality has suffered on some of the cheaper units and they don’t always last as long as predicted. They still have issues coming on to full brightness. They don’t work great in cold temperatures.

All along many of us have been waiting for the next type of light bulb to emerge – LEDs. A few years ago they started to show up in stores but they were $20 a piece. More than I was willing to fork out, even to try a test.

IMG_20130418_183648But LEDs are now here. The price has come down enough for me and I’ve purchased a few and tested them out over long term and i’m 100% convinced. I’ll never buy another CFL light bulb.

LEDs are twice as efficient as CFLs. That means they use half the energy to make the same amount of light, so they save even more energy and money. They last more than twice as long as CFLs, and the indicators are that they really do live up to their lifetime ratings. It’s hard to tell yet because the lifetime is 25,000 hours and you’d have to use a bulb for 22 years at 3 hours per day before that time comes up. They come on instantly, even in cold temperatures. The brightness and light quality is superb. And, they contain no mercury. They beat CFLs in every category.


LED lights at Costco

I shop at Costco and they now have a very large selection of LED lights at only $5 each (with instant rebate). Every time I go there I pick up a few and I’ve been replacing my CFLs as they burn out (often prematurely) and now my house has about half LEDs. I find they are far superior to CFLs for all the reasons I’ve listed. I encourage you to join me and try out an LED light bulb if you haven’t already. You may very well agree, and never buy another CFL again.

LED lights at Costco

LED lights at Costco

Here in Vermont you can find LED lights for $5 or less in Home Depot, Costco, online and other many local hardware stores. There’s a state rebate, so your state hopefully has some discounts as well. Try one out and see what you think!

Gary Beckwith

Gary Beckwith is an eco-blogger and driver of the Solar Bus. He can be reached at gary(at)

How Eco-Cool is Costco?

I’ve been shopping at Costo for a while now. I like the larger quantities (less trips to the store) and low prices. I’ve read they have good policies, benefits, and low turnover rates for employees. And they have more and more organic and environmental products every time I go there. On 4/25/13, I drove there in my veggie-oil powered car, and as I shopped I thought, why not take a few pictures and share the info with others who are making an effort to shop with eco-consciousness in mind….

Costco Vermont

This is my local Costco. It’s the only one in the state of Vermont. It’s not the biggest by any means. No gas pumps like some of the bigger ones have.

The first thing I noticed was a HUGE new display of LED lights.


This was great to see. LEDs are even more efficient than compact fluorescents (CFLs), they last longer, and thy have no mercury. We’ve been waiting for LEDs to hit the market and it appears the time has come!


I found almost a whole aisle of LED lights, including flood lights, regular bulbs, and others. Note the bulbs are in a display where you can see how bright they are and the quality of the light.


There was even an instant rebate, making most of the bulbs cost only about $5.  I’d say this alone is a reason to head over there and try out their new LED lights. Thumbs up!

I put a few in my cart and moved along. Next up I came to a real downer. A huge pile of cases of bottled water.


I saw a bunch of people grabbing a case or two and putting in in their cart. What’s up with that? Haven’t people figured out yet, most bottled water is the same thing that comes out of your tap for free, but you have to pay for it and you end up with a bunch of plastic no one wants? Not to mention your water tastes like plastic. Thumbs down on this one!

Next I made my way to the food section. Surprisingly I came across a stack of cases of unfiltered Switchback beer, made here in Vermont. Nearly everyone I know seems to love this beer. It’s good to see local products in a chain store. Thumbs up!


Sometimes when I’m out shopping for my family, I think about the hunters and gatherers from thousands of years ago and I pretend I’m one of them. My family is home safe in their “cave” and I’m out gathering, risking my life just like the cavemen did. The only difference is they were pulling berries off bushes and throwing spears at wild beasts, while I’m pulling products off shelves… Pretty much the same thing, eh?

Anyway next I came to something interesting. Not sure what these “Hemp Hearts” are. But anything made from hemp is good in my book. It has so many uses, from paper to fuel to medicine to food. It’s good to see more hemp products on the market. These are “raw shelled hemp seeds” according to the package. I was tempted but decided to let others be the guinea pigs. Maybe next time. Still they get a thumbs up.


Not in pictures, but in my cart and worth mentioning are:

  • Organic, free-range, certified humane eggs. Recycled cardboard would be better than plastic on the packaging, though.
  • Case of soymilk, organic, non-GMO, half the price of grocery stores!
  • Good organic free-trade coffee, costing less than Starbucks (non-organic)
  • Case of organic apples from Washington state… but too much plastic packaging.

Then I came to another surprise… an area rug made out of 100% recycled materials! They look strong and well-made. Now I didn’t need such a rug, but if I did, I’d buy one. This is great to see. I always wonder where all those plastic jugs go when the recycling company picks them up. Well here’s the answer. Big thumbs up for recycled products!


I made my way to cashier where I didn’t take a photo but I did experience one of the most environmentally cool things about shopping at Costco. NO BAGS! They don’t ask, “paper or plastic?” because they don’t have either one. They will put your stuff in boxes that are leftover from packaging, or just loosely back into your cart. I usually ask for a box for the little stuff. So many bags are used and wasted and disposed of every day in our country. Why can’t every store do this? Just go BAGLESS! Who needs them? Kudos to Costco for having not a bag in sight. THUMBS UP on that one! Here’s my cart as I wheeled back to my car. Not a bag to be seen.


Overall, I give Costco a thumbs up for Eco-Coolness. Some good and unique products on their shelves that show a commitment to the environment. But there are some issues to work on, like the bottled water and some of the product packaging has too much plastic.

I hope this post encourages people to shop with an Eco-Coolness mindset, at all stores. If there’s a Costco in your town, maybe you want to check it out. If you found a cool new product, let others know about it (comment below!). And don’t forget, you don’t have to wait for your store to go bagless. Even if you forgot your cloth shopping bags, just put the stuff back in your cart with no bag. Who needs bags anyway?


Better than Soda Stream: How to carbonate your own beverages

This plan is much cheaper than Soda Stream, and you don’t have to buy their tiny cartridges. Also this system will put more CO2 into your drinks.

Items you need, all available on Amazon:

Hose and ball valve:
Carbonator Cap:

A video showing how to do it:

Notes about this video: 1) don’t turn it upside down like in the video. You’ll get liquid in your hose. 2) you don’t have to let it sit for 30 minutes like he says. Just shake it up for 30 seconds and you’re done.

Another video:

There are many other videos on Youtube that show the same basic thing. You get the idea.

A few notes:

1) Use COLD water. The colder the better. It absorbs CO2 better.

2) Make sure you are getting *food grade* CO2 from your supplier. For refilling your tank, call around with the yellow pages. I pay about $13 to fill my 5 lb tank. That’s about the price of just 3 twelve-packs of seltzer. I figured I can carbonate about 800 drinks for the that same $13 !!

3) You can carbonate water and drink it like that, or you can mix in flavors, juice, etc. afterwards. If you carbonate juice directly, it will come out much different (stronger) than adding juice to carbonated water – it’s reallly good. You can buy soda flavorings from the store (you can even use the Soda Stream flavorings) but you definitely don’t have to. Make up your own flavorings. Try putting in a little maple syrup…. Any kind of juice is worth trying.  You can experiment with different strengths (juice to water ratio). You can try different flavorings and make your own cola, rootbeer, spritzers, …. you can even carbonate wine into champagne! the possibilities are endless.

4) Once you have carbonated the 1 or 2 liter bottle, you can simply remove the carbonator cap and put a regular cap back on it, and put it in the fridge.  If you don’t like plastic, you can pour from the 1 or 2 liter bottle into glass bottles with a funnel and put caps on them. I use Corona beer bottles because they’re clear and you can tell what’s in there. You can buy caps for about a penny each, and a capping tool for about $15. But if you don’t mind storing in plastic, that’s the easiest.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions. I can tell you, it works, it’s fun, and it’s easy!  I’m going to go make a batch right now….

5 Easy Steps to Lucid Dreaming

by Gary Beckwith

By simply reading and following the 5 easy steps outlined below, you will attain the useful and fun skill of Lucid Dreaming.  Read this entire article before you begin. If you follow each step in order, and you are on your way to becoming a master of the dream world.  What I love about lucid dreaming is that it’s not just something to read about – you can experience it yourself!  While many disciplines take months or years to see results, many people can have real lucid dreams in a short period of time if they follow these steps.

Know What Lucid Dreaming is and its Uses. 

You can’t have a lucid dream unless you clearly understand what it is and how it differs from a normal dream. In normal dreams, we are “players” in a play.  We have little control over situations, and generally speaking, things happen to us. Because of this, regular dreams can be scary, confusing, dull, stressful, and frustrating at times. This all stems mainly from the fact that we are not in control.  Lucid dreams are different because we are in total control – we are the writer and director of the play, the master of the dream. We can do anything we want. If we don’t like the scene we can change it.  We are not limited by the constraints of the “real” world.  We can fly, transform things, create things — just about anything you can imagine is possible.  If a monster is chasing you, you can just stop running and change it into a beautiful woman (or man) and POOF, it happens! Or better yet, stop and ask the monster why he’s chasing you. The benefits of lucid dreaming are endless.   The wonderful thing about lucid dreaming is that feels very real. Imagine a place exactly like the “real” world, except you have magical powers, can do absolutely anything you want, and wishes come true instantly? If you’ve ever seen Star Trek, you probably remember the Holodeck – a fictional universe where they go to practice things, try out theories, and have fun, but no one ever gets hurt in real life.  Lucid dreaming is exactly like that – a magical playground!

The Lucid Dream World is just like the real world, but you can try anything without worrying about screwing up your real life.  You can tell your boss what you really think, without any consequences.  You can even fly, go to the bottom of the sea, walk through walls, and satisfy your wildest fantasies.  And when you wake up, your body and your mind feel all the satisfaction and joy, as if you had just “really” done these things.

Our normal dreams are so real that we usually have no idea that we are dreaming –it’s so real, we’re fooled into thinking it is.  Likewise, in lucid dreams, our experience, our senses, and everything is the same, or even MORE vivid and brilliant, than our waking hours. Lucid dreaming can even be used as a form of therapy because you can live through experiences that are not possible in the physical world, but when you wake up, your body and mind feel as if you actually did those things.  In fact, scientific studies have shown that your brain doesn’t know the difference between “really” doing something and doing it in a dream.  So the affects can be very beneficial, healing, and of course FUN!

It’s very important to clearly understand the difference between a normal dream and a lucid dream. Most lucid dreams start with a normal dream that turns into a lucid dream by following the steps in this guide.  The instant a normal dream becomes a lucid dream, everything changes, and it’s a very exciting moment because you then have the power to do literally anything.  Again, the main difference is that you are in total control and you can decide to do anything you want and experience as if it’s really happening.

So how do you have a lucid dream? Are you ready for the big secret?  Here it is:  The key to lucid dreaming is simply to be fully aware that you are dreaming. It sounds simple, but it takes a little practice. Most of the time when we dream, we think it’s real.  But once you realize you’re dreaming, you become the director of the play, and the door then opens to infinite possibilities of learning, adventure, healing, fantasy, and awe.

So if you can simply figure out how to realize you’re dreaming without waking yourself up, you’re half way there.   Let’s get started.

2. Remember Your Dreams.

While many people think they simply don’t dream, most of these people are just not remembering their dreams.  If you are one of these people, don’t fret. Here’s a recipe sure to help: Keep a notepad or journal right next to your bed. Right as you go to sleep, remind yourself that you’re going to write in the journal as soon as you wake up. When you wake up each morning (or in the middle of the night), before you move a muscle, and before you open your eyes, ask yourself, “What was I just dreaming?” Write it down right away. Studies show that most people can report what they were dreaming right after they awaken, but many people forget about it by the time they get out of bed. This is because the mind is in a unique state of consciousness right when you wake up and it isn’t good at remembering things.  Keeping a notepad next to you will change all that.  If you’re like most people, it will only take a few days until your notepad starts filling up. And a few days after that you might be able to ditch the notepad because you’ll find you just got “used to” remembering your dreams better. When you’re remembering your dreams, you’re ready for step 3.

3. Check-in Often.

Again, the key to door of the Lucid Dream World is the knowledge that you are dreaming. In regular dreams, we usually don’t realize we’re dreaming, even though odd things happen. We usually just say to ourselves “hmm, that’s odd,” and continue in the dream, unsuspecting. Because everything is so real, we “fall for it” and think it’s our normal waking life. Sometimes we do wonder, “hey, this is so weird, I must be dreaming,” but we don’t take steps to confirm it’s a dream, or the actions to change it into a lucid dream.

Since our goal is to realize we’re dreaming, we need a method to determine if we’re dreaming or not, and we need to “check” this often.  By this, I mean to get in the habit of asking yourself, “Am I dreaming right now?”, even when you’re awake.  You must have a simple and consistent way of checking to see if you are awake or dreaming. People think of the classic test “pinch me, I want to see if I’m dreaming.”  Do NOT use pinching as a check-in test. If you are dreaming it will most likely wake you up with is the which is the last thing you want to do if you want to have a lucid dream.

One way to check-in is to look at some words, on a sign or paper. If you’re dreaming, the words will usually be illegible. The letters might be all jumbled, upside down, or they might just not make any sense. If you look at a paper or a sign on a road and see crazy mixed up words like that, you’re probably dreaming.  Another way is to look at the palm of your hand. If you are dreaming and you look at your hand to check in, you will know “this ain’tKansas” as soon as you look at your hand.

Choose a check-in method that works best for you and use it at least 6 times per day, while you are awake. The best time to check is when anything seems just a little weird.   Here’s an example.  You’re on your way to work, you notice your pen isn’t in your pocket.  “Hmm, I thought I took the pen with me,” you say to yourself.  You take this opportunity to check-in and look at a speed limit sign on the road.  If it says 60 mph, you probably just forgot your pen. But if the letters and numbers on the sign don’t make sense, you’re dreaming.  It may seem silly at first, but it only takes a second, and you need to do it if you want to have lucid dreams. By doing this often when you’re awake, you create a habit of doing it, which stays with you even when you’re asleep. One day soon you will check-in when you ARE dreaming, just out of habit. You’ll ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?”, you’ll do your check-in, and you’ll find the answer is YES. This is a sacred moment and Step 4 will make sure you’re ready for it.

4. Have A Solid Plan For What To Do When You Realize You’re Dreaming.

If you aren’t prepared for the special moment when you realize you’re dreaming, you won’t be able to use it. It would be as if someone handed you a $100 bill and you just looked at it, and walked away.

People often suspect they are dreaming, or even know they are dreaming, but they just go on with their dream, still being a player in the play. That is not a lucid dream.  Just to know you’re dreaming is not enough; you have to do something with that knowledge.  For one thing, if you know you’re dreaming, you don’t have to worry about getting hurt, and you don’t have to worry about that monster chasing you. But just knowing you can’t get hurt isn’t enough.  You need a solid Plan.

It’s best at first to keep your plan very simple.  A simple plan is to fly. If you realize you’re dreaming, all you have to do is take off! If you want to, you can take a running start and leap into the air. Think to yourself, “I am going to fly now.” Many of us have wished we could fly.  Well now is your opportunity!  You can really fly!  An alternative plan is to manipulate your surroundings.  Change an object into something else. If there is another person there, you can “wish” him or her to do anything, without saying a word. Just say to yourself, “I want that person to jump up and down” and watch it happen.

Whatever you choose for your plan, be consistent.  Stick with that one plan until you realize you’re dreaming and you enact the plan successfully. Start with a very simple plan, and as you have more lucid dreams you will develop more plans. If you do not have a concrete and simple plan, especially as you’re getting started with lucid dreaming, you may wake up out of confusion. To avoid waking up like this, set your plan firmly in your mind while you are awake. Tell yourself, “when I realize I’m dreaming, I will stay in my dream and start to ____”.  Like checking-in, remind yourself of the plan a few times a day.  You can even link your plan to your check-in.  Whenever you check in and find you’re not dreaming, tell yourself “If had found I was dreaming, I would have immediately ___________.

NOW, before you go to bed every night, the very last thing, remind yourself of everything.  Remind yourself about remembering your dreams, how you check-in, and that you do it often.  Remind yourself of your Plan.

If you are doing all these things, soon you will have your first lucid dream. I can tell you that many people who never heard of lucid dreaming have read nothing more than this article and reported back that they had a lucid dream soon after following the directions.     For some people, their first lucid dream came the first night after reading this article!.  For others, it may take longer to start remembering your dreams and to go through the steps but you will get there if you keep at it!

5. Daydream About Your Nightdreams

Now that you’ve succeeded in having a lucid dream, think how you can use lucid dreams. Flying is very fun and you may want to stick with that for a while but eventually you may want to start contemplating your dreams more. Think about how you can learn from them, or gain some insight.  It’s literally like the “holodeck” on Start Trek.  If you’ve ever seen that show, remember how useful it was for them to have a place to go where they could experience things, try out different scenarios, and never have to worry about getting hurt or hurting others.  Think up some fantasies that you would like to live out.  Are you frustrated at work and want to tell your boss something, but afraid to risk your position?  Do it in a lucid dream, and you may find that you wake up feeling as if you released the tension you were holding towards your boss, and it was good enough to do it in a dream because the feelings are so real.  Or you may have an increased feeling of confidence and be ready to talk to her from a more calm and rational viewpoint.  Have you been carrying some kind of burden, or bad thoughts about something, or wondered about why or how an event could have happened or did happen?  The Lucid Dream world offers a place to find out, and to release these burdens.

One great thing about lucid dreams is that your mind will feel as if you have actually done these things when you awaken. So, if you always wanted to swim with dolphins, go for it! Do it in a lucid dream and you will be fulfilled!

While you’re awake, think about all the uses of lucid dreaming, and make your plans for the next time it happens. Set the plan firmly in your mind. Each time you do your check-in, remind yourself of what the plan is.  The possibilities are endless. Just a few examples:

  • Flying and space travel, and underwater exploration
  • Being with your favorite celebrity
  • Reuniting with a lost relative or friend
  • Meeting a spiritual guide, asking for guidance
  • Performing in front of a live audience
  • Sexual fantasies
  • Go to a concert for your favorite band, even if they don’t play anymore
  • Asking questions and receiving guidance in real life issues
  • Going to sacred places
  • Confronting situations, telling people what you think, releasing stress

One other great thing about lucid dreaming is that your senses are heightened if you simply focus on them. Scenes are more vivid, sounds are more intense, smells are more pungent, etc… If you take a moment, you can really feel the beauty.  Just stop, look around, and notice how amazing everything is.  This is the best time to “stop and smell the roses!”




This is an introduction to Lucid Dreaming.  If you follow the steps you will succeed but there is much more to mastering the art.  For a more complete discussion – I highly recommend the book, Lucid Dreaming, by Stephen LaBerge, PhD. It is filled with more uses of lucid dreams and other ways to develop the skill of having lucid dreams.

If you find that you were having lucid dreams but they are becoming less frequent, or they stopped, go back and make sure you are checking in and making your plans.  Just because you had a lucid dream doesn’t mean you can stop doing the previous steps.  You have to continue steps 2-4 to keep having lucid dreams.


by Gary Beckwith, Certified Hypnotherapist

(uc)    1991   This material is UNcopyrighted.

The more you share it, the more lucid dreams you will have!

published by:

The Harmony Institute