We’ve all seen that reddish glow on the horizon to the east—it’s the effect of light pollution, and by living in a highly populated area, we can’t avoid it. But there are things we can do to keep the light pollution down in our corner of the world, and help everybody enjoy a dark, starry night a little more. By choosing lights that aim downward and are targeted, we not only keep extra light from extending out and flooding other people’s views—we also keep from wasting energy on illumination that isn’t actually doing what it’s supposed to do (and save ourselves from being an annoying neighbor, and allow nocturnal critters to do their thing). Specifically, the best kind of lighting is properly shielded light that illuminates exactly what you want it to, whether that’s your yard, your deck, your sidewalk, your dock, or whatever else. Bad lighting has light that leaks sideways or upward (the way many floodlights and streetlights do, unfortunately). So don’t direct your lights—indoor or outdoor—to shine across into a neighbor’s property, or out onto the lake, or up into the night sky.
Another major component of reducing light pollution comes in the form of something we’ve all heard repeatedly: don’t leave lights on if you don’t need them on. If you set your light to be motion sensitive, you’re unlikely to waste any more energy or rays of light than you have to. And if you take the wattage down a few notches, it will keep the night sky a little darker and the stars a little brighter for everyone.