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How to Choose Batteries That Don’t Damage our Planet

How to Choose Batteries That Don’t Damage our Planet

Household batteries’ small size belies the big impact they have on the planet. Americans purchase two to three billion dry-cell batteries every year to power radios, toys, cell phones, watches, laptop computers, various kitchen tools and appliances, and even garden and workshop tools. This portable power is great. Its impact on the environment? Not so much.

* Batteries contain heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium and nickel.

* Household batteries, especially alkaline and button batteries, are the single-largest source of mercury in our trash.

* Mercury is highly toxic. Long-term exposure can permanently damage the brain and kidneys and the fetus in pregnant women. As much as possible, we should avoid throwing mercury-laden batteries “away,” since they’ll eventually break apart in landfills and the mercury could leach into groundwater.

Fortunately, following the Three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) can minimize the impact batteries have on us and Nature.

REDUCE

It is possible to shift away from throwaway batteries almost completely. Here’s how:

* Buy fewer toys, appliances, and electronics that need battery power. Instead choose products that can be powered electrically or by hand. We actually have a couple of portable radios that we hand-crank. They’re particularly handy to have during power outages, or even when you’re looking for a little exercise to do when you’re watching tv.

* Turn off battery-powered appliances when you’re not using them to extend the life of the battery. This should be a no-brainer. Why deplete the power when there’s no need? If you won’t be using something for a long time, it actually makes sense to remove the batteries altogether so their juice won’t slowly drain away, which can happen even if they’re not turned on.

REUSE

* Choose rechargeables. You’ll use fewer batteries overall, though even rechargeables contain heavy metals and ultimately should be recycled. Some batteries come with a USB port on one end so you can plug them into a laptop or desktop hard-drive and recharge them without using any extra electricity.

* Tap into the power of the sun. Many innovative batteries are actually mini panels of electricity-generating photovoltaic cells. They can be free-standing or part of something like a backpack and can be plugged into cell phones, iPods and MP3 players, and other devices.

* Use your car cigarette lighter. I bought an adapter for my car’s cigarette lighter that has a port that fits my phone. I probably charge my phone as much using the car lighter as I do using other devices.

RECYCLE

No matter what kind of battery you use, eventually it will die. Rather than throw it in the trash, you can do the following:

* Take batteries from mobile devices to big-box appliance stores and retailers that sell office equipment. They usually have a bin on hand where you can toss these used electronics for recycling.

* Contact your community’s solid waste management facility or department of public works. Many communities now hold hazardous waste pick-ups or collections a couple of times a year. Keep all your used batteries in a shoe box, plastic container with lid, or heavy duty zip-lock type plastic bag until you can turn them over to be properly disposed of. NOTE: If replacing a car battery, make sure to have the work done at a shop that recycles the batteries.

* Contact Earth 911 to locate battery recycling facilities convenient to your home.

What battery alternatives work best for you? Please share!

Related Posts

How to Dispose of Old Batteries
Could Sugar-Filled Batteries Help Combat Climate Change?
Recycling Batteries, Light Bulbs and Sneakers: Easy Greening

Photo Credit:

Ian Britton – Rechargeable Battery
C-DR-C – Corroded Battery

Read more: Eco-friendly tips, Green, Home, Household Hints, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, Technology, , , ,

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Diane MacEachern

Diane MacEachern is a best-selling author, award-winning entrepreneur and mother of two with a Master of Science degree in Natural Resources and the Environment. Glamour magazine calls her an “eco hero” and she recently won the “Image of the Future Prize” from the World Communications Forum, but she’d rather tell you about the passive solar house she helped design and build way back when most people thought “green” was the color a building was painted, not how it was built. She founded biggreenpurse.com because she’s passionate about inspiring consumers to shift their spending to greener products and services to protect themselves and their families while using their marketplace clout to get companies to clean up their act. Send her an email at Diane@biggreenpurse.com

56 comments

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3:00AM PDT on Oct 8, 2014

I contacted Earth 911 and found out Staples recycles batteries and a lot of other things. I knew they took ink cartridges, but I did not know about the other things. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

2:07AM PDT on Aug 10, 2014

Thanks for sharing!

3:00AM PDT on Jul 31, 2014

Good advice. Our local supermarkets have battery bins. I am looking forward to the day when such toxic products won't be used.

1:26PM PDT on Jul 28, 2014

Great ideas! Thank you! PS: Be sure to store batteries where your pets cannot get them.

3:23PM PDT on Jul 27, 2014

Thanks for posting this article.

3:40AM PDT on Jul 27, 2014

Thanks for sharing

11:53PM PDT on Jul 26, 2014

Thanks for sharing!!

8:43PM PDT on Jul 26, 2014

It always helps to dispose of batteries in the proper fashion instead of just tossing them in the garbage. A lot of toxins.

2:08PM PDT on Jul 26, 2014

Good article,thanks for sharing

5:47AM PDT on Jul 26, 2014

ty

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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