Change the World Wednesday, Lights

Before I get to this week’s challenge I had a lovely day. The sun was shining brightly and I took care of a few errands.  The children joined me at the local thrift shop (I needed a few things) of course when they are with me I end up buying more than what is on my list.

From Facebook

The children have been doing chores to earn money and this week helped with sorting the recyclables from the trash, picking up litter, feeding the birds along with watching my indoor plants and watering them when needed.  For this I gave them each $0.75.  My grandson bought 2 shirts and a puzzle, his sister purchased a throw pillow with Sleeping Beauty on it a summer top and a puzzle.

My purchases included a never worn dress for the youngest granddaughter as her mom told me she’s running out of clothes which fit her.  This still had the original price tag on it of $32, I purchased it for $2.  I picked up a picture frame, 3 summer tops (needed as I cleaned out my summer clothing), a 24 pack of colored pencils for the young artist, an alphabet bingo game for rainy days,  and six books (these will be passed around then returned to the thrift shop or the library)  Total cost for my purchases $6.25.  Can’t beat that.


Back to this week’s challenge from Reduce Footprints.  Unfortunately this is something I don’t have much, if any control over.


This week, reduce light pollution. Here are some suggestions:

  • Turn off indoor lighting which isn’t necessary. In rooms where lights are required, be sure to close the curtains so that the glow doesn’t escape outdoors.
  • Install a motion detector on outdoor security lighting.
  • Use lights only when necessary … avoid dusk-to-dawn lighting (for example, a porch light doesn’t need to be on all night).
  • Lower the wattage on outdoor lights (a 300 watt flood light is not necessary).
  • Light only what needs to be lit. For example, if you need a front porch light, be sure that it lights the door and not the entire yard.
  • Use full cutoff, low-glare fixtures (also called night sky friendly outdoor lighting fixtures). These fixtures direct the light to the ground. They typically have a cap, on top, which restricts the glow from affecting the sky or other areas.
  • Instead of a light for your driveaway, consider reflectors.
  • Share information on your blog and/or with your friends … many people don’t know the problems with light pollution.


Night at the Little Cove

Night at the Little Cove

Light pollution is a huge problem. In addition to how it affects the wildlife around us it also obscures the night sky.  Last summer my granddaughter and I sat out on a cloudless night and tried to see how many stars we could count.  When I was younger the stars were so plenty there was no way to count them. But now, even being in a small town which has less lights than a city, we counted six.  We took a walk and tried to find the darkest spot around my neighborhood but there are enough lights around town we couldn’t find more than our six.   Forget trying to point out the constellations, there were none visible.  Are we going to find ourselves completely removed from the night sky?

Renting, the outdoor lighting is a security concern with insurance implications.  The front of the building doesn’t need extra lighting because there is a street light that is bright enough to allow for safe entry but the back is a different story.  The owners did remove the outdoor lights from the outside of the building but have a flood light among the sumac in the Little Cove.  While this is a low crime area you still have to have outdoor lighting which and is required by property insurance.

I don’t think the spiders are all that lucky here though as we have a large bat population which does a good job catching anything that flies but still it is a concern.

Another lighting issue is the interior hallway.  Since there is zero natural light coming into this common hall which connects all the apartments therefore lights on at all times. While this doesn’t affect the night creatures it does use energy I wish it didn’t. Again, I have no control over this.

As for what I do have control over is the lighting inside my apartment.  I recently converted all my bulbs to LEDs (not like I have all that many) and yes I do close the curtains as dusk falls.  This is partly because I want to reduce light pollution and partly for privacy. As I write this my curtains are closed and I have just one lamp on.

If I owned my property, and when I did,  I would  use a combination of reflectors and the lowest possible wattage bulb on a motion detecting fixture.  There are a couple of newer options out there today. One is a dim LED light installed under steps leading to the home which at least protects people from falling when encountering stairs. Another is a glow in the dark paint which can be used on rocks and stepping-stones to light up a path.  I haven’t checked into the paint so I can’t vouch for the environmental footprint of such a paint but here is one post on outdoor lighting which talks about the paint.

Have you found an option which reduces light pollution? Let’s see how many ideas we can come up with.



19 thoughts on “Change the World Wednesday, Lights

  1. Hi Lois…yes, lighting and light pollution is a big problem in most urban areas. We can still see quite a few stars in our night sky because we are so close to the mountains with the lower density that brings. But as the population grows it is definitely changing.

    And we have completely converted our house to LEDs because Thom is fanatical about them :-) Our outside lights are all solar downlights, one LED on the garage and the motion sensor light on the side of the house for security. There are no street lights in our neighborhood so we do choose to have some lighting.

    The only other thing that has made a difference is our lighting is that we installed two solatubes in our house. That keeps us from using one light in the bathroom with no window all during the day. The other one is in our kitchen/greatroom and that too keeps things plenty light in the day so we seldom have any light on until it’s dark.

    Good thoughts and good practices Lois. Thanks for the encouragement. ~Kathy


    • Kathy, I am with Thom on the LEDs. I have even passed a few out to friends and family when I was able to get a good deal on them. Not many but every little bit helps.

      I would love to have solatubes and if I ever decide to own a home again they will be installed in a few specific areas including the bathroom. With the amounts of snow we get skylights are not a good option and tend to leak whereas solatubes are rated as doing better.


  2. Don’t you just love it when you spend so little and get so much.. The town here is full of charity shops and its amazing what bargains you can find.. I know a lady who was able to get a once only worn prom dress for her a quarter of the cost.. and also know it was going to help the aged . And her daughter didn’t mind either…
    My granddaughters clothes get recycled to my sisters grandchildren who is one year younger so her little granddaughter gets to have all her party dresses and out grown clothes which are still in very good condition..

    As for lighting.. We have as I think I told you before changed to energy saving bulbs, we turn off the standbys too… We do have a security light, but its sensor activated only so it only comes on around the back if we go out as the Drive gates are locked.. Usually its the hedgehog or neighbours cats that set them off.. We have a little Cat-run through the back of our garden… LOL :-) Only today I saw another newby.. a Ginger one… I keep an eye out as we feed the birds and I had to shoo one off the other day as he’s climbed the trellis near the bird feeder… I am a Cat lover and have kept Cats for most of my life.. But when the birds are feeding their young and the baby birds are not Cat-wise.. I shoo them away so the cats become wary of the bird feeder…

    You are so right when you say years ago we could see the stars.. Millions of them… Its not until we travel way out into the country away from the town,, ( even though we live on the outskirts ) you can tell the difference straight away as the stars twinkle in their millions…
    Looking at Earth from satellites we are all lit up like a Christmas Tree.. take a look here


    • Sue, I do love thrift shops. To know I only spent $0.75 to fill out my summer clothes is fantastic. When I needed a dress for my son’s wedding I found a lovely one at the first thrift shop I tried and spent only $10 on it. I’m not one to wear dresses so after the wedding I took it off and gave it to my sister who loved the dress so it lived on.

      We find lots of clothes for the grandchildren at the thrift stores and then pass down clothes to the youngest out of town as the oldest girl out grows them. Today a neighbor just gave us a nearly new winter coat for my granddaughter and an entire laundry basket of My Little Pet shop toys her daughter outgrew. These kinds of trades and shops are what will help families adjust to less income.

      Can you adjust your outdoor lights so small animals don’t trigger it? I know most of the ones sold around here don’t turn on when movement comes from a position lower to the ground.

      Our birds are going through 4 cups of birdseed daily but I know this is the time of year they need a consistent diet because they will have babies to care for soon. It will die down in a bit, and then pick back up when the babies learn to fly and move out on their own. It’s worth it to me and luckily buying seed in bulk isn’t too expensive.

      The spinning globe site is sad to look at. My area is so lit up it’s no wonder I can barely see the starts. I too live on the outskirts of the county so it’s not as bright but still lit up enough it affects us too.


  3. When we lived in Houston, all of the lights were turned off at the schools at night (after evening activities). I thought the totally dark schools looked dangerous or were ripe for being broken into. However, they did this because they had fewer problems than before. I guess maybe even the bad guys are afraid of the dark. Or more likely, it’s easier to get detected with a little light if the area is totally dark. Anyway, I’ve never seen this done anywhere else, but it worked there.


    • Now that is interesting. I know most businesses, and the schools, around here keep some lights on so they will be detected by passersby. I wonder if it’s just a fallacy that light deters some kinds of crime.


  4. Hi Lois, I love shopping at thrift stores! Michele and I have an elderly friend named Helen. Helen loves fashion more than anyone I’ve ever known, You should see her when we take her to a thrift shop,

    On an entirley different note, but within the “save the world” theme – I just came across
    The Plastic Bank is turning plastic waste into a currency that can be exchanged to help lift people out of poverty & transition them into a self-sustaining life of entrepreneurship.

    We are setting up re-purposing / exchange centers for plastic waste in areas that have a high concentration of poverty and plastic pollution. Our mandate is to provide a ladder of opportunity for the world’s poor to ascend from poverty by providing access to education, opportunities and 3D printing services.


    • Carol, I can just picture your friend, I bet she’s a lot like the little ones when they spot something that catches their eyes. Why is it children are happy with such little things, then we forget the meaning of life and having fun until we are nearing the end of our lives?

      The plastic bank sounds like a wonderful way to use plastic. I just tried to get on their site and it crashed so I’ll try again in a bit.

      I think there is something wrong in how my brain works because I just don’t get 3D printing. It’s kind of like when in high school Algebra, it just wasn’t logical to how I am wired.


  5. Oy! This is a topic near and dear to my heart. I live in a fairly poor neighborhood and people here are really afraid of crime. When you look at it statistically, the crime rate here isn’t much different from other places in the city, but people are still afraid, so lots of my neighbors have these HUGE floodlights that they leave on all night long. Plus, years ago – before I bought my house – a neighborhood watch group somehow got the city to install extra streetlights in the middle of the block… which means that there’s basically a streetlight in my front yard, and another in the alley behind my house. Sigh. I have to have light-blocking window shades in my bedroom just to sleep because otherwise the light would shine right into my window.

    Anyhow, I don’t have any great suggestions here, but I do think that we, as a society, need to come up with better ways to address these sorts of issues.


    • No wonder you can’t sleep! How do you ever wake up in the morning with black out shades? The sun lighting up the room is what wakes me. My last place had no light getting to the bedroom which meant I had to set alarms to get up. I let my son and his wife use my bedroom there when she was pregnant and they both complained about how hard it was to wake up.

      So do you miss seeing the night sky, I love star gazing?


      • Well… waking up is generally not a problem for me because I usually wake up ever hour or two throughout the night. Seriously, I can probably count the times in my whole life that I’ve actually slept through the entire night on one hand! It’s just convincing myself to actually get out of bed that’s the issue!

        I do miss stargazing. I can see the basic constellations from here, but it’s not like being out in the wilderness. Camping trips in the mountains though… it’s a whole different sky… milky way and all!


        • Cat, I spent years not being able to sleep through the night, I would wake with every little sound. It’s only been in the last few years that I can sleep straight through so I feel for you.

          II used to camp each summer for 8 weeks or more. While we had cabins I always slept outside under the stars. I miss it very much, and yes the sky among the Rockies is extraordinary.


  6. Ah, I do love thrift shopping and a new dress for $2, that’s great buying. We converted our lights 8 years ago and though I balked at the cost to begin with – every one of those lights is still the original one we bought, that’s how long they have lasted.


    • It is quite expensive to upgrade to the LEDs in the beginning but the savings on electric and knowing they will last for years quickly pays off.

      I’m not one to shop often, I think I average twice a year in that store but I always find something useful and needed.


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