Switching to rechargeable batteries is one of the easiest changes you can make to save money, the planet, and yourself (from heavy metal poisoning).
The only problem is how to decide what the best charger and batteries are, and that is easier said than done.
Let’s see if we can help…
Why Switch to Rechargeable Batteries?
Because all the cool kids are doing it, of course.
If conformity isn’t enough motivation for you, check out some of the statics the EPA lists about the environmental impact of batteries:
- Americans purchase nearly 3 billion dry-cell batteries every year to power radios, toys, cellular phones, watches, laptop computers, and portable power tools.
- Inside a battery, heavy metals react with chemical electrolyte to produce the battery’s power.
- Mercury was phased out of certain types of batteries in conjunction with the “Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act,” passed in 1996.
- Recycling batteries keeps heavy metals out of landfills and the air. Recycling saves resources because recovered plastic and metals can be used to make new batteries.
The EPA also says,
Batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel, which can contaminate the environment when batteries are improperly disposed of. When incinerated, certain metals might be released into the air or can concentrate in the ash produced by the combustion process.
But you can recycle batteries, right? Theoretically, yes.
Good luck trying to find a place to actually recycle them. Sure, there are plenty of retail locations and big box stores that accept batteries for recycling, but Environment, Health and Safety Online says,
Controversy exists about reclaiming household batteries. Currently, most batteries collected through household battery collection programs are disposed of in hazardous waste landfills. Even stores and chains that have established take-back programs admit that it often ends up in the trash.
Most Complete and Affordable Battery Charger
Confession time: I’ve never used reusable batteries…until 2 days ago.
I’ve never really wanted to spend $30 on a charger than only handles AA and AAA batteries. But in the middle of grocery shopping a few days ago I walked passed the battery aisle and decided to take a look.
I discovered the EnergyStar rated Energizer Family Charger (pictured above) which charges all sizes of Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries: AA, AAA, C, D, and even 9-volt.
The Energizer Family Charger has a blue LED screen on top that indicates the charge status of each battery inside. It will tell you if the battery is charging, when the charge is complete, and whether or not the battery is bad.
It will charge 4 AA batteries in as little as 2 hours… and I would venture to say that anyone can wait that long for their batteries.
Note that only Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries should be charged in this charger. Energizer says that any other rechargeable battery type runs the risk of leaking or exploding the charger.
This is a good thing, since NiMH batteries are better for the environment and all of your favorite gadgets. Either way, you win.
And yes, any brand of NiMH battery can be charged in this charger…though Energizer does recommend their brand, for obvious reasons.
Do you use rechargeable batteries? If so, what’s been your experience with them? If not, what’s been stopping you?
Image: Service Lighting
I think every little step toward living green is an awesome one… but eco-snobbery sucks! My goal is to help newbies learn the most important steps toward living green — individually and collectively. Personally, I strive to have as little impact as possible on Planet Earth while I'm here.