Fluorescent Bulb Drop-Off Locations


I was talking with someone about how DPW only takes fluorescent bulbs on Wednesdays and Fridays at the Residential Drop-Off Center.  (Also, I predict that fifteen years from now, a sign of being an old-timer in Worcester will be calling that location “Ballard Street.”)

If you need to find a location to drop off any products with mercury (including these kinds of bulbs), I suggest using this convenient map from MassDEP

As far as I can tell, Home Depot accepts them at every location, as does Rocky’s Ace Hardware.  (I know for a fact that the latter will accept bulbs that are not purchased there, so you don’t need a receipt.)


For those of you who aren’t on Twitter (trust me, that’s not an insult, that’s a compliment to your sanity), there was an exchange worth reading (as Dee mentioned before I finished this post!):

Kate Toomey thanked CSX for various gifts to the city.

4rilla indicated that CSX still had plenty of work to do regarding illegal dumping on their own property.

Kate asked for a location.

4rilla got huffy.

Ditto Kate.

4rilla then provided pictures and locations of the dumping.  (The media may even become involved.)

Illbehavior chimed in with the myth about how difficult it is to dispose of trash in the city (and that there are all manner of items that can’t be dropped off).  I actually found the comment that “I don’t think it’s Upper Burncoat doing the dumping” a bit offensive.  There’s a stereotype that poor folks are the ones who dump, which is what I assume the Burncoat comment is about.  That has not been my experience. 

In my experience, there’s a very small segment of the population who behaves towards trash in the same manner as a toddler who doesn’t want to use the potty.  They’ll go to an area where they don’t think anyone is looking and dump.  There are a few contractors who will gladly take a fee for disposing of your trash and then dump that in some woods, or along the railroad tracks.  The contractor who dumped in our woods is from Auburn.  I’ve found mail amongst bags and bags of trash that looks like a landlord cleaning out an apartment — mail that indicates that the property’s on the East Side.

It’s not difficult to dispose of things in a responsible manner, and it’s not expensive.  There are some people who would just prefer to dump. 

These people are few and far between.  The problem is that they tend to dump big items, and it feels like there are a lot of people engaging in this behavior.  In reality, it’s not that many. 

It’s one person dumping five bags.  Then an animal rips open the bags, trying to get at the food bits located therein, spreading the contents over a large area.

It’s one person dumping a mattress and box spring.  And couch and chair and coffee table.

And between those two people, it can look like a devastation area.  And if no one picks things up, more people feel they can dump, it looks even worse, on and on.


I think the exchange I discussed above (see especially this, this, and this) is why Twitter isn’t really the best tool for either customer service or constituent relations.  I spoke with someone close to me who used to do constituent relations for a living, and she said that there are many cases where 140 characters just don’t cut it, and you just need to pick up the phone and have a five-minute conversation.  I think in all forms of electronic communication, it’s easy to misunderstand someone’s tone and for things to escalate to a point where they might never have gone in person or on the phone.

By the time someone’s tweeting to Kate Toomey, they’ve likely already gone the route of their district councilor multiple times, tried hunting the city website for who to contact about dumping on non-city land (easier said than done), and probably told your story to half a dozen people, all of whom haven’t helped.

To be fair, Kate is the only city councilor who actively uses Facebook and Twitter.  Just by being there, I think she gets the brunt of the complaints in the virtual arena.

Tonight, we’re going to be hearing the details — finally — of the closed-door negotiations for the City Manager’s contract.  Let’s hope some of the Council’s goals for the Manager include an increase in digital communication — back and forth — with the citizenry.  Or — at the very least — continued emphasis on keeping Worcester clean.

5 thoughts on “Fluorescent Bulb Drop-Off Locations

  1. Joe says:

    I noticed last week that Lowe’s (at least in Lincoln Plaza) now has a CFL drop bin as well. It’s in the vestibule outside the main door, so you could just dump and run. (I doubt a receipt is necessary)

    I was so happy when Worcester finally started accepting fluorescents- i had 9 years worth of CFLs to get rid of. Now I don’t have to head over to formerly-Ballard-street.

  2. Joe says:

    By the way, since you’re the twitter expert- is there an easy way to thread these “conversations”?

    I am often pointed to someone else’s twitter feed and have to scroll through old comments trying to figure out what reply relates to what comment….

    • Nicole says:

      You could use a tool like this and paste the first link in the conversation into the prompt, but it doesn’t always thread the whole conversation.

      I think there must be a better way to do it [especially if you have a Twitter account], but I’m no Twitter expert, so I welcome someone else’s input.

  3. 4rilla says:

    Thanks for mentioning the exchange that Kate and I had.
    i give her tons of credit for being the only council voice out there that is super accessible.
    But when she tweeted about the CSX donation I couldn’t help but fore back about the growing amount of trash that I see on the CSX tracks.

    It is no lie that some of the larger items have been out there for over a year. Even of CSX has spent $100K over 5 years that is basically $55 a day in trash remediation, hardly a number that would make me give a standing ovation.

    • Nicole says:

      Well, I look at it a different way. When I saw the pictures you took, it seemed to me that that would cost under $600 (barring the labor of the people to collect the trash) to haul away. For me, the question isn’t “Why aren’t they spending more?” but that it’s so (comparatively) cheap to take care of, why not just do it?

      (And, frankly, as you said — people DID collect it, but no one picked it up. So that speaks more to corporate inefficiency than anything else.)

      In their 2009 annual report (look hereabouts), around page 90, CSX indicates that they spend an awful lot of money on cleanups. Now, the majority of that money is (I assume) for Superfund-type abatements, cleanups due to their business, and not dumping on their property. And — frankly — that’s as it should be.

      But these kinds of cleanups cost so little and garner quite a bit in goodwill. For a company that can afford more than $1mil a quarter in lobbying Washington, this is a cheap-and-quick way to lobby localities.

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