Ocean Currents

Time to Charge Up Your Batteries!


Credit: JohnSeb flickr stream

Batteries provide energy to many of the products we use and often can’t imagine our lives without – cell phones, laptops, cars. Many of the items we use throughout the day already contain rechargeable batteries. Can you imagine throwing out your laptop battery every time it ran out of juice?

That’s not the case, however, when it comes to smaller devices like the TV remote, or our children’s toys. Every year Americans buy and throw away billions of batteries. According to a study done by MIT in 2010, 80 percent of portable batteries manufactured in the US are alkaline batteries with a global annual production exceeding 10 billion units. Even with legislation restricting disposable battery dumping, today the majority of these batteries go to landfills and some even end up in our ocean.

Don’t believe us? Every year during our International Coastal Cleanup, volunteers find and pick up alkaline batteries on beaches and waterways. The same batteries that powerfully and seamlessly keep our lives running can release deadly toxins into the water our precious wildlife needs to survive.

But there are other options. One solution is to properly recycle your batteries. Another solution that produces less waste is to purchase and use rechargeable batteries. While rechargeable batteries cost more initially, the EPA states they can be reused hundreds of times and last for years, if used properly, so their lifetime is greatly increased.

One study shows for the same quantity of energy produced, rechargeable batteries have up to 32 times less impact on the environment than disposable batteries. Some rechargeable batteries can even be recharged 1000 times or more, saving hundreds of dollars over their lifetime when compared to their single-use disposable counterparts. That’s not the only benefit – since you’ll be buying less, you’ll be creating less packaging waste. Given the estimated number of uses from a rechargeable battery, one pack of rechargeable batteries could equal 93 packs of disposables. That’s a lot of trash you kept out of the landfill by just making the switch for one item. Imagine if you made the switch for all your household AAA or AA battery needs!

There are times, however, when it is best not to use rechargeable batteries. Do not use rechargeable batteries when specific power requirements or battery life is important, like with smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, or life support devices.

Have you already made the switch at home? Try it next at your office then. Our IT department only uses rechargeable batteries for us and we love it!

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