What is the most environmentally friendly lighting option? Apart from simple things you can do to optimize energy use by your existing lights at home, you can also invest in new, sustainable lighting options. This post looks at some of the most eco-friendly lighting brands in the market today.
- What’s the Problem with Incandescent Bulbs?
- Is LED Lighting Eco-friendly?
- Eco-friendly Lighting Design
- Eco-friendly Lighting Brands for your Home
- 1 // Bicycle Glass Co.
- 2 // Burrow
- 3 // Chairish
- 4 // Collectiviste
- 5 // David Trubridge
- 6 // GOODEE
- 7 // Graypants
- 8 // Honey and Ivy
- 9 // Lanna Passa
- 10 // Like Minded Objects
- 11 // Nick Hammond
- 12 // Pablo
- 13 // Schoolhouse
- 14 // SIN
- 15 // Smile Lamp Works
- 16 // Stickbulb
- 17 // The CardBoard Boutique
- 18 // Ur Place
- 19 // Varaluz
- 20 // West Elm
What’s the Problem with Incandescent Bulbs?
Thomas Edison’s incandescent bulb changed the world, but luckily technological progress has improved the bulb. The incandescent bulb has a tungsten filament in it that needs to be heated enough by the electricity for it to start glowing. That’s how we get light from the bulb. However, about 90% of the electricity passing through the filament is lost as heat. Only the remaining 10% gives the light. This is, of course, very inefficient, apart from the fact that the bulb is heating up the room and requiring air conditioners to work harder to cool it back down. These bulbs also give out quite a bit of carbon dioxide.
Incandescent bulbs are short-lived (700-1,000 hours), less economical and not a great idea overall. Which is why the United States, in 2014, disallowed the manufacture and import of incandescent bulbs. Fluorescent tubes are also gone the way of the dinosaurs, and you should recycle the tubes responsibly if you still have some lying around.
Enter LED and CFL bulbs, which are way more common now, and the preferred lighting method for those interested in energy-efficiency.
Is LED Lighting Eco-friendly?
LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting is much more efficient than incandescent lighting (by about 80%). LEDs bulbs last longer, are more energy-efficient and low-maintenance, and are recyclable (the aluminum and plastic of LED bulbs and tubes can be broken down and recycled in a recycling center. The LED driver and chip components can be recycled by an e-cycling center).
They may cost more upfront, but they’re much more economical in the long run due to their lifespan.
Does leaving LED lights on waste electricity?
The operating life of LED bulbs are not affected at all by being turned on and off (more energy is not required to turn on the light or to turn it off), and this makes LED lights much more energy-efficient. This is, of course, compared to incandescent and fluorescent lights. But it’s best to turn off the LED light when you’re not using it. So, leaving LED lights on does waste electricity, since you’re not using it. But it won’t make as big a dent in your bill as non-LED lights.
According to the US Department of Energy, a 60-watt incandescent light costs $4.80 in energy annually, whereas a 12-watt LED light (which provides the same light as a 60-watt incandescent light) costs $1.00 annually.
What are the disadvantages of LEDs?
LED bulbs have a high initial cost per bulb. This, however, is beneficial over time, as LED lights have higher energy savings and much longer lifespans.
One thing you may notice is that LED bulbs from different manufacturers may appear slightly different in their white light hue. This cool, bluish light is the norm with LED, although you get LED bulbs in various colors. Choose a good brand (from among the ones listed below!), and be sure of the highest quality.
One way to save on energy use is through a light dimmer, but not all LED bulbs are dimmable; the ones that are require special dimmer switches. So, check on this aspect before buying LED lights.
Apart from these disadvantages, LED bulbs pretty much check all the boxes of sustainable lighting.
Eco-friendly Lighting Design
Eco-friendly lighting design focuses on strategies to reduce the impact of light on the environment, while bringing wider benefits to us. It optimizes the human health, environmental and social benefits as much as possible. It begins during the planning stages of any building. Utilizing natural light as much as possible, planning for the most efficient lighting for the available spaces, using repurposed lighting materials that can be recycled at the end of its life (or safely disposed), are all part of eco-friendly lighting design.
Eco-friendly lighting design also looks at aspects such as light pollution. Light pollution is a bane of the modern world. It harms the environment, wildlife, and also affects us and our quality of life. What light is best for light pollution? Using LED and CFL lights outdoors helps protect the environment, but use warm-colored bulbs. Use outdoor lighting fixtures that shield the light and minimize glare. Turn off all unused indoor lighting at night. Also, avoid using blue lights at night.
Are there certifications to determine which ones follow regulations? Yes. For example, LEED certification for lighting looks at the energy efficiency of lighting solutions and controls. The Fixture Seal of Approval is a third-party certification for exterior lighting that minimizes glare, reduces light trespass, and doesn’t pollute the night sky.
Eco-friendly Lighting Brands for your Home
1 // Bicycle Glass Co.
Price: From $129
handmade | recycled glass | sustainability | made to order
Top Pick: Glacial Lighting Collection
Bicycle Glass Co.’s hand-blown recycled glass pendant lights come in stunning collections, and will add elegant style to your interiors. The glass is locally sourced, and the company’s operations are powered by renewable energy.
2 // Burrow
Price: From $75
Sustainable materials | payment plans | free delivery
Top Pick: Quinn Table Lamp
Burrow has partnered with various lighting brands to bring lamps, sconces and pendant lights to the style-conscious home decor shopper. These lamps made from brushed steel, marble, and wood look graceful and are also light on the environment.
3 // Chairish
Vintage items | secondhand lighting | recycled
Vintage lighting from decades ago? Chairish probably has it. Secondhand lighting that’s unique? Chairish definitely has it! As we’ve noted before, “pre-loved” secondhand products are very eco-friendly. And Chairish seems to be collecting some of the best looking lighting options on their platform! You can narrow down the extensive results by category, price, etc. to zero in on the best options for you.
4 // Collectiviste
Price: From ￡75
Recycled | responsibly sourced materials | hand-crafted | sustainability
Our Pick: Collectiviste’s rattan lamps
Looking for a beautiful statement piece? UK-based Collectivisite offers gorgeous eco-friendly lamps and handmade pendant lights, all made from responsibly sourced bamboo, palm fiber, etc. Their light bulbs are all efficient, eco-friendly LED light bulbs.
5 // David Trubridge
Price: Starts from $440
Renewable materials | recyclable | recycled packaging
Our Pick: Nikau Pendant
New Zealand-based lighting designer David Trubridge creates stunning lighting from sustainably harvested bamboo and natural birch plywood. He also uses powder-coated aluminum and recyclable nylon clips. The lights are lovely, and very geometric, and come in a self-assembly kit. Of course, since he’s an acclaimed designer, his lamps are expensive AF!
6 // GOODEE
Price: From $30
Repurposed materials | handcrafted | B-Corp | 1% for the planet | climate neutral
Our Pick: Eperara Siapidara Set of Three PET Lamps
GOODEE is a curated marketplace with a gorgeous selection of eco-friendly lamps, pendant lights, and sustainable outdoor lights. The eco-friendly materials that GOODEE uses for their lamps include PET recycled plastic bottles, Ghanian elephant grass, mouth-blown glass, and FSC-certified hardwoods and steel. GOODEE retails energy-efficient bulbs by Tala at $12 onwards for a 6-watt bulb.
7 // Graypants
Price: From $149
Responsible manufacturing | local & sustainable production | repurposed materials
Our Pick: Scraplights Ausi Table Lamp
Design studio Graypants makes their table, floor and pendant lamps using recycled corrugated cardboard. Graypants use non-toxic glue to hold the recycled cardboard in place. Other materials used by them include forged iron, brass, powder coated steel, FSC-certified plywood, acrylic and aluminum.
Wondering why they’re called Greypants? The founders both wore gray pants when they first met at architecture school!
8 // Honey and Ivy
Price: From $24.99
Sustainable manufacturing | made-to-order
Our Pick: MISHI Table Lamp
Another Etsy Star Seller, Honey and Ivy makes their 3D-printed table and desk lamps from 100% bio-based PLA (Polylactic Acid). Their architectural designs are hand-assembled, and will last a long time.
9 // Lanna Passa
Price: From $20
Upcycled | repurposed | traditional methods
Our Pick: Black Bamboo Pendant Light
Thai small business Lanna Passa is a Star Seller on Etsy, and works with hill tribe communities to create bamboo pendant lamps from repurposed baskets.
10 // Like Minded Objects
Price: From $350
Upcycled materials | small batch production
Our Pick: Sphere Pleat Table Lamp
Like Minded Objects creates with “a resourceful design eye looking to local materials and technologies that respect communities and environments.” They follow respectful labor practices, and their products are made from recycled materials, reducing landfill waste. Like Minded Objects works with the principles of sustainable, circular systems.
11 // Nick Hammond
Price: From $66.96
Handmade | minimalist | quality hardwood
12 // Pablo
Sustainable | long-lasting
13 // Schoolhouse
Price: From $79
Energy-efficient | heirloom quality
14 // SIN
Price: From $175
Handmade by ceramic artist Virginia Sin
15 // Smile Lamp Works
Price: From $44.99
Small business | upcycled materials | handmade
16 // Stickbulb
Price: From $495
Sustainable materials | locally sourced |
17 // The CardBoard Boutique
Price: From $68
Artisan | 100% handcrafted | eco-friendly
18 // Ur Place
Price: From $99
Handmade | artisan | natural fibers
19 // Varaluz
Price: From $44.50
Handmade | sustainable materials
20 // West Elm
Price: From $290
Handmade | local production
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NOTE: All brand photographs belong to the respective brands/businesses.