So why aren’t those silly looking light bulbs selling like hotcakes?

One of the cornerstones of the whole “Save the earth from ourselves” movement has been the idea of “individual involvement”. While we wait for government and big business to get off of their collective asses and get serious about dealing with the climate change problem it is up to the individual to start doing what they can within their own sphere of influence to make changes in the products we use and to try and lessen our abuse of the planet.

One of the ways we hear the most of about how individuals can make a difference is through simple things like using those new fangled light bulbs that look like a corkscrew. Commonly referred to as CFLs they are meant to replace our current love affair with incandescent bulbs by promising to save you money because they last longer and use less energy. Sure they might cost more than their counterparts but hey you’ll save that money in the long run right?

Treehugger had a post the other day lamenting the decline in sales of the CFLs and how the manufacturers are whining about the fact that without increased subsidies and incentive programs they could end up losing what market share they have carved out for themselves. In the post Brian Merchant writes

This is all pretty incredible to me–even if people don’t care that they’re using less electricity from an environmental standpoint, don’t people care that they could be saving money? Sales have fallen harder as the recession deepened–exactly a time when people should be expected to look for ways to save money. I guess it’s just a testament to the short-sightedness of the American consumer–we’ve developed a severely bad habit of placing instant gratification and short term savings over practical investment (just look at our rate of savings compared to consumer spending over the last 20 years).

When I read that I just shook my head. I mean seriously folks – don’t people like Brian get it?

It’s not about instant gratification you smuck – it’s called being able to survive on a decreasing amount of money. Sure your electric bill might be a few dollars more next month because you are using the wrong bulbs but that’s next month; and right now that extra five bucks or so for some fancy light bulb can make the difference of having enough food to feed your family for one night – even if it is only Mac Cheese.

You are asking why people the majority of whom are probably one paycheck away from being homeless don’t buy something now that “might” save them some money down the road? Come on let’s not be idiots here. Most of these people are lucky if they are planning anything past the end of the week at best so saving $10 on their next electric bill means squat. Hell they are probably just happy to have any bulb to light their apartments or in foreclosure homes with.

Sorry but on a poverty level income I’ll gladly take a full belly and a roof over my head lit by light bulbs that cost me $1.99 for a four pack instead of having to tell my kid that what is on their plate is all there is for tonight because daddy wanted to be all cool and spend $8.00 for a three pack of fancy light bulbs.

That the real world life buddy so keep your condescension to yourself.