Curious how you can help reduce unnecessary light pollution at your Northern Michigan home? Read on.

This article first appeared in Traverse Northern Michigan. Find this story and more when you explore our magazine library. Want Traverse delivered to your door or inbox monthly? View our print subscription and digital subscription options.

Light is a powerful design tool: A soft, warm glow from a lamp creates an inviting space for your family to connect and relax, and a string of outdoor lights beckons friends to gather on a summer evening.

Light makes us feel safe, cozy, welcome. But, as with many good things, too much can be harmful.

Light pollution affects everything from animal migrations (did you know birds orient themselves to the North Star?) to melatonin, a hormone that our bodies produce when it’s dark that helps us sleep. Beyond sleep deprivation, fatigue, headaches, stress and anxiety, recent studies also show a connection between reduced melatonin levels and cancer.

So, this summer as we relish our warm nights outdoors, how can we also be thoughtful stewards of our environment and considerate of neighbors? DarkSky International, a worldwide authority on light pollution, offers tips, resources and even works with retailers like Lowe’s and The Home Depot to offer DarkSky-approved products (look for the DarkSky logo while you shop).

5 Lighting Principals for Responsible Outdoor Lighting

  1. Ask yourself, does this light have a clear purpose? Consider how the use of light will impact the area, including wildlife and their habitats.
  2. Direct light so it falls only where it’s needed. Use shielding and careful aiming to target the direction of the light beam so it points downward and does not spill beyond where it’s needed.
  3. Use the lowest light level required. And be mindful of surface conditions, as some surfaces may reflect more light into the night sky than you intend.
  4. Use light only when needed. Controls such as timers or motion detectors ensure that light is available when you need it, dimmed when possible and turned off when not in use.
  5. Use warmer color lights when possible. Limit the amount of shorter wavelength (blue-violet) light to the least amount needed.
3 DarkSky-Approved Outdoor Light Fixtures

Decks and Patios:
A5 Series String/Festoon ZOZO Round Cage, Aluz

Wall Mounts:
Cagney 1-Light Sand Black Hardwired Outdoor Barn Light Wall Sconce, The Home Depot

E1-S Solid Brass, Low-Voltage, Stem-Mounted Path Light, Beachside Lighting

Find more residential products online at


Photo(s) by Steven Miller