by Mia Foster

batteries lot
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(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
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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!