by Mia Foster

batteries lot
Photo by mohamed Abdelgaffar on Pexels.com

(A bundle of multiple colored batteries)

Currently it is considered safe to throw away single-use batteries in all states except California. However, just because it is deemed safe enough by the government does not mean it is the best option. Today I will go over how to recycle different types of batteries and, if you are unable to recycle, how to properly prepare your batteries for the landfill. 

Recycling Alkaline/ Single-Use Batteries

Every single-use battery contains reusable materials, such as zinc, manganese, and steel (Earth911). As in any other form of recycling, by choosing to recycle our batteries we divert them from the landfill, create new products, and prevent excessive mining for new metals because the metals from the recycled materials fill the quota.     

To recycle single-use batteries, find a mail-in or drop off recycling service near you. Call2Recycle is a wonderful resource, and Home Depot has partnered with them. If you live near a Home Depot, you can take your dead batteries to said location and they will recycle them for you. Earth911 also has an extremely helpful Recycling Locator that can help you find recycling facilities near you.

Recycling Rechargeable Batteries

It is required that we recycle reusable batteries when they are at the end of their life because they have toxic chemicals and heavy metals that are not safe for landfills (Home Depot). They are recognized by the EPA as hazardous waste and should be treated as such (Earth 911). These batteries can be recharged and reused hundreds of times but they will eventually die. When they do, follow the same process as with single-use battery recycling; the same facilities often handle both types of batteries. It is important to note that if you have a piece of technology with a rechargeable battery that dies, with the exception of cell phones, it is best to remove the battery from the device prior to recycling.

anonymous person showing recycle symbol on smartphone
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(a phone with a recycle sign, which is what you should do with your batteries if possible 😉 )

Throwing Away Single-Use Batteries

If you cannot recycle single-use batteries, you can dispose of them in the garbage (excluding Californians) if you take precautionary measures first. Dead batteries are not entirely dead and they are still a fire hazard. To prevent issues with disposal, tape over the ends of 9-volt batteries and place batteries in a plastic or cardboard box to avoid sparking.

Conclusion

Batteries are very common in our everyday lives and the proper disposal of them is an issue nearly no one understands. My family has jars of dead batteries sitting around waiting for the day when one of us knows what to do with them. I figure there’s no time like the present! Hopefully with this information on battery disposal we can rid ourselves of dead batteries together while being environmentally conscious.

by Mia Foster

Lightbulbs and batteries are such commonly used household items, they are considered essentials. By purchasing the correct light bulbs and batteries, we can decrease energy usage and the waste we send to landfills.

Light Bulbs

analysis blackboard board bubble
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A 60-watt incandescent light bulb is the traditional style but that does not mean it is the best; these bulbs are extremely inefficient and have a relatively short lifespan. The best option is an LED light, which uses 80% less energy and has a lifespan that is 25 times that of the incandescent bulb (Davis). While LEDs have a larger initial cost than incandescent bulbs, the savings in energy bills and the decreased need to continually replace bulbs make the swap more cost-effective over time. By switching your lights to LED, you can significantly decrease the environmental and monetary impact of your lighting. If you need more motivation, EnergyStar reports that: “If every American household replaced just one standard light bulb with a high-efficiency version, the United States would save about $600 million in annual energy costs and prevent 9 billion pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions.” (Davis) The switch might feel small, but it makes a huge difference!

Batteries

close up photo of batteries
Photo by Hilary Halliwell on Pexels.com

Rechargeable batteries are a more complicated issue. Simply buying and using rechargeable batteries does not make them more sustainable; according to Yale Climate Connections, a battery must be recharged 50 times before its impact is significant (Grossman). This is due to different methods and metals used for production, the energy used to charge batteries, and the different processes of disposal. For this reason, it is suggested that we use rechargeable batteries for highly used items such as remotes, cameras, and electronic toys (Schildgen). These items need new batteries more often, meaning the batteries will be charged many times, making the switch environmentally beneficial. 

Conclusion

The appliances and products we purchase and use are fundamental to the sustainability of our lives. By making educated decisions about purchases we can decrease our individual economic impacts, therefore creating a larger cumulative decrease in energy use and product waste. Small items such as light bulbs and batteries are significant!

 

By Sophia Tran

“You know what I got out of that internship? Terror. Absolute fear of spending the rest of my life looking like the people at the company.” I sat shocked at this admission as I listened to my friend share their working experience with me. 

  In the past year I have started to take notice of the relationships in the workplace. As an intern myself, I am incredibly appreciative of the opportunity to develop my professional experience while still in school. As I listened to my peers share their own experiences as interns, I realized that there seems to be a strong disconnect of corporate engagement and culture between interns and working professionals. Many seemed to be disillusioned by their experiences and often it brings a sense of despair and fear of the reality after leaving school. 

The result? Many are rejecting incredible job offers at these companies and are either choosing to continue pursuing graduate degrees or taking job positions that have fewer financial benefits but bring more sense of purpose and joy. In the U.S the number of graduate students have tripled since the 1970s and according to some estimates, 27% of employers now require master’s degrees for roles in which historically undergraduate degrees sufficed (HBR). 

The problem is that it might not be at no fault of each generation but of the situational circumstances that each era experiences in their own lifetime. Likewise, it seemed that many of the older working professionals  (baby boomers and Gen X) that I speak with are struggling to adapt and understand the millennial generation who are slowly growing in numbers in their company. 

I believe that companies have the principles and values that the millennial workforce are looking for yet fall short of recognizing and presenting the importance of the purpose in their work as well as the company’s care to continue to cultivate their employee’s success in a way that would energize and engage them.  Similarly, the millennial generation is incredibly sharp with the potential to persevere and add value to these companies, yet again fall short of displaying it. What can we do? How can we learn to find the excitement and joy in our working experiences while putting our best foot forward in these companies, showing them our fullest potential without feeling that our shortcomings are due to the lack of a graduate degree?

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” – Stephen Covey

What we can do as the millennial generation  is to take that step forward and learn to understand ourselves better as a person in order to better communicate between generations in a way for others to see our potential and overall enhance our experience with others. In my next posts over the following weeks, I’ll be going through Harvard Business Review’s 10 Must Reads On Managing Yourself, which compiles articles focused on providing you the resources to tap into yourself to develop the habits of success and navigate your own personal life and avoiding decisions that undermine your goals in life. Learning how to self-manage yourself is an incredible tool to use (especially in this pandemic) to advance your growth and learn about the business environment. The book will cover how you can create positive influences on others, overcoming tough obstacles, leading a balanced life and much more.

 Sometimes one of the most difficult things about life is finding our purpose and the things that make us happy in our career, sometimes it just takes a little nudge to get us started on the right path. Everyone wants to lead a happy and fulfilling life, yet many do not reach that point in their career or cannot seem to maintain that balance. How will YOU fill out in your “Happiness is when…”? 

By Mia Foster

    You unplug your phone and pour yourself coffee. It’s a slow morning, without too much to do. While you decompress, the devices you used continue to aimlessly draw power; your phone may be unplugged and the coffee may be brewed, but they use electricity nonetheless. According to climate journalist Tatiana Schlossberg, about three quarters of our devices use electricity even when they are “off,” causing about a quarter of the average American’s electricity consumption to be used by idle devices (Schlossberg 56-58). The wasted electricity caused by this phenomenon, often referred to as “vampire power,” is costly in terms of electricity bills and environmental impact.

     So how do we reduce the amount of electricity idle devices use? Luckily, this is a rather simple fix. One option is to put multiple devices on a power strip, which allows you to fully turn off many appliances at once. This has the same effect as unplugging, as it completely stops the use of electricity (Schlossberg 62). Another small lifestyle habit is to simply unplug devices when you are done using them instead of turning them off. I started a habit of unplugging my phone charger along with my phone in the morning. You can unplug your coffee maker when your pot is brewed and unplug lamps when you turn them off. These simple changes can add up to a large amount of electricity, allowing us to protect our wallets and the environment at the same time.

Works Cited

Schlossberg, Tatiana. “Vampire Power.” INCONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION: the Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have, by Tatiana Schlossberg, GRAND CENTRAL PUB, 2020, pp. 56–62.

By Mia Foster

A rubber band on a glass to mark whose glass it is.

     The concept of a wine-marker is quite logical; as all glasses look the same, a person puts an attachment on their glass so they know which one is theirs when they put it down. I have taken to applying this principle to water glasses. In my family and many other families, all our water glasses look the same. This leads to an excessive number of glasses in the dishwasher since no one remembers which belonged to them, so they grab a new glass from the cabinet instead of continuing to use the same one. Some may also grab a random used glass, not knowing who drank from it previously, and use that. In a global pandemic, that is incredibly unsafe. By simply making your glass identifiable, you can reduce the number of dishes you have to wash and the spread of germs within your family. I guess you could say it’s killing two birds with one stone (my mom would say petting two bunnies with one hand because the other saying makes her sad). 

Marking your glass is extremely simple- grab a rubber band and place it around your glass. It is of no cost to you! I will use my glass for a week or so before washing it- you can choose how long you go, but since it’s just water, you can reuse it for at least a few days. This is a very simple way to reduce your dishwasher use, saving water, electricity, and time!

By Mia Foster

 As we are constantly inundated with news about imminent climate change, Greenhouse Gas emissions, and waste, it is often easy to feel hopeless in aiding the fight against climate change. While it can feel like we are the victims of the corruption of corporations and government inaction on the climate crisis, we each have the opportunity everyday to reclaim the story and put forward our own efforts towards leading more sustainable lives and lessening our impact on the environment. 

     The purpose of this thread is not to convince you of the reality of climate change. If you do not believe in it, I suggest doing an independent study. Make sure to consume information on the issue from many different sources so you may form your own opinion after getting a comprehensive overview of the science and arguments made by all. Reading the opinions of those you don’t agree with can never harm you! There will be a list of links at the bottom to begin your reading.

     Sustainability Saturdays is a weekly publication that will include small tips on how to make your everyday life more sustainable along with the occasional recommendation of books or studies to read. Who knows, I might even do a weekly challenge every once in a while! By making small changes in your lifestyle, your impact on the environment can significantly decrease over time. To chip away at climate change, we must collectively change our way of living; but collectivism must start with the individual. Join me as I learn new ways to make my life more sustainable! 

Climate Change Information Station:

Climate Change: How Do We Know?

The UN on Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

EPA: Climate Action Benefits Report

By the Numbers: How the U.S. Economy Can Benefit from Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Sustainability Sector Provides 4.5 Million Jobs in US