Green tip for week #22 — Week of September 28, 2008

Use rechargeable batteries (and recycle them when they no longer work)

This week’s simple green tip is one that many of you have probably already adopted as habit, but it bears repeating. Batteries have become a nearly essential part of our daily lives, particularly with the tremendous amount of electronic devices, kids toys, and household products that are battery operated. While some products come with a device-specific rechargeable lithium ion or other form of rechargeable battery, many others say “batteries not included” or come with non rechargeable batteries.

Although many of your devices will already have rechargeable batteries built in, many items like flashlights and children’s toys do not. For those products, simply switching to rechargeable batteries can reduce an immense amount of waste, as you will be able to get many cycles of use out of the same batteries, rather than continually repurchasing new sets of AA, AAA, C, D, or 9V batteries which ultimately get quickly used and discarded.

Not only will you save the wasted energy consumed in production and transportation of those batteries, but you will reduce the waste and energy consumed in recycling them, as well as the wasted energy involved in the packaging materials for the sale of batteries. Best yet, you will likely save a significant amount of money. Although rechargeable batteries will cost you more upfront, particularly when you factor in a charger, they are still very low cost when you consider the life of those batteries and how many traditional batteries a rechargeable saved you from having to purchsae.

Rechargeable batteries come in many shapes, sizes, price points, and options. Recharging methods can even vary from a plug-in wall charger, to a battery designed to be charged by the usb port in your computer (like the USB cell, here), to batteries that can be recharged from a solar panel or using a solar charger (like the ones available from Solio.com). Sites like GreenBatteries.com identify some of the types of rechargeable batteries and more information about them.

Once your batteries are spent, make sure that these get recycled appropriately. These should be handled by your local recycling center or hazardous waste center. Batteries can leach mercury, cadmium, and other harmful substances, and should be handled appropriately to keep this waste from further degrading our environment. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (rbrc.org) has information about recycling rechargeable batteries. There is also information about battery recycling at Earth911.com, here. Or, find out more about how to obtain a battery recycling collection kit for your home or business from Battery Solutions, here.

Remember that green living and environmental responsibility is not an “all or nothing approach”. Even small steps make a big impact if everyone takes them. Do your part to help keep our environment in good condition for future generations!

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