Rechargeable Batteries: Are They the Best Alternative?

Are rechargeable batteries really a good idea?

To recharge or not to recharge…that is the question!

When I first heard of rechargeable batteries, I was instantly sold on the idea. I mean, with all the electronics we have nowadays, we go through batteries almost as much as we go through toilet paper! What’s not to love about batteries you can plug in for a recharge instead of tossing in the trash, and having to shell over more and more money for new ones?

Tossing anything metal—or other things that don’t seem like they decompose easily—is hard for me anyway. So it was no surprise that I fell in love with an alternative.

So, we jumped on the rechargeables bandwagon quickly, and like with anything else, there are pros and cons. Some brands last longer than others, some chargers work better than others, some devices work well with them, and some not.

While in theory, you should be able to use rechargeable batteries for a very long time, at some point you do have to worry about disposal. When I looked into how to properly dispose of these batteries, the waters got murky.

Most towns have instructed their residents to include regular household alkaline batteries in with their normal garbage. But instructions on rechargeables are not as clear—most only say not accepted and offer no further advice on what to do with them.

Are rechargeable batteries safe?

It really depends on the type of battery you’re using. Some are harmful mainly to the people making them, some are harmful if allowed to leak, some are harmful only if incinerated…and almost all are harmful to dogs, if swallowed!

It seems like there are a few choices for lesser-evil on the rechargeable side, such as Lithium Ion, NiMH, Silver Oxide, and Zinc Air.

For me, it’s all a bit overwhelming and has actually inspired me to use less things that require batteries, so as to reduce my battery footprint.

Here are some ways to reduce our battery footprint:

  • Less toys: do your kids really need eighteen different toys that light up, spin, and/or talk to them?
  • Bring back the wires: not everything needs to be wireless (and yes, they do still have wired gaming controllers!!)
  • Combine devices: most of us don’t really need a camera, GPS, calculator and alarm clock when we have all that and more built into our cell phones.
  • Choose the right type of rechargeable: devices that plug in to recharge instead of having removable batteries that you must purchase, recharge and dispose of separately.
  • Be smart about charging: make sure you are charging devices completely (especially the first charge), and letting them fully deplete the charge before recharging.
  • Unplug. From everything…as much as you can.


Listen to this Green Divas Tech Timeout Meditation by Green Diva Meg:

Written by Green Diva Christine Zadykovich.



Warren Webber
Warren Webber3 years ago

Live long and prosper!

Olivia Dawson
Olivia Dawson3 years ago

Are non rechargable batteries not harmful to dogs if eaten? Seems unlikley

Julia Oleynik
Julia Oleynik3 years ago

Thank You for sharing:)

Karen K.
Karen K3 years ago

I like my rechargeable batteries. They may not last as long for some things, but do for others. I am super curious about Harry S N's suggestions for lemon juice! That's cool for the little alkaline batteries that are around! And I agree that this article is wrong about putting alkaline batteries in the trash. Bring them to places that collect them for proper disposal or recycling.

Birgit Ditto
Birgit Ditto3 years ago

Thank you

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers3 years ago

Thanks. I've been using rechargable batteries for years.

Angela B.
Angela B3 years ago

We use quite a few rechargeable batteries and they work pretty well with everything. I have been trying to buy more things that don't use batteries.

Dave C.
David C3 years ago

I have rechargeable batteries that are well over a decade fact some of them are pushing 15 to 20 yrs........yes, they work less well/long, but they are still working.....

Kamia T.
Kamia T3 years ago

I have had really poor experiences with rechargeable batteries. Even for solar applications, the battery life and inability to stay charged for long periods has not been solved, so I generally avoid them now. The solution to using less really does lie in having plug-in items and the lowest number of "gadgets" possible.

Robert O.
Robert O3 years ago