Wal-Mart is encouraging 200 million shoppers to save energy, and thus money, through the purchase of energy efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. In fact, Wal-Mart is determined to sell bulbs to at least 100 million homes. Currently fluorescent bulbs are only utilized by 6% of American homes. If Wal-Mart succeeds: total sales of bulbs in the US would increase by 50 percent, saving Americans $3 billion in electricity costs.
The pros of compact fluorescent bulbs: they last 10x longer, use 75% less electricity, save consumers $30 over the life of the bulb and produce less greenhouse gases from power plants (450 pounds less). The cons: they cost 8x more than incandescent bulbs and give off a harsher light. In addition, the bulbs contain mercury, which will be a problem if the bulbs eventually end up in landfills. But Wal-Mart is working with environmental groups to resolve the mercury issues, including the possibility of collecting and recycling the used bulbs.
Wal-Mart has a tough task ahead, they need to convince the American public that paying more for an item today, will help save a significant amount of money down the line.
To learn more check out the article in the New York Times.