They are the dreaded three words this time of year: "batteries not included". As soon as the gift is opened, we are off on a hunt for the right size battery. In fact, this year alone Americans will buy nearly three billion batteries. Sadly the greater majority of these will be single use batteries that will end up in the landfill. You can Do Your Part when buying your next battery and it's as simple as picking one that's rechargeable.
Think of all the things you'll give this year that will need a battery. Everything from Elmo to an mp3 player! It's smart to include recyclable batteries when you give a gift. These days, many rechargeable batteries come fully charged so there's no wait required! Also gone are the days when rechargeable batteries die within days. Now, new technology means these batteries last longer and can be recharged hundreds of times without experiencing memory effect, when your batteries won't charge fully. When you choose rechargeable batteries you'll be buying fewer batteries, sending fewer to the landfill and you'll be saving money.
A four pack of AA rechargeable batteries and a charger costs less than $20 and will replace hundreds of single use batteries. You'll only have to recharge them a half a dozen times to break even with what you'd spend on single use batteries. The Sanyo eneloop rechargeable system comes with an adapter that allows you to use AA batteries when you need a C or D size battery. It also provides a slow discharge rate, claiming to hold 85% of its charge after one year of storage.
Regardless of the brand or type of battery you choose, it's critical to dispose of them properly. Every battery contains metal like nickle, lead, mercury, cadmium and manganese. It's dangerous to send these metals to the landfill where they can be released into our air, land and groundwater. This is why all batteries are classified as hazardous household waste and that includes disposable alkaline batteries. In fact in Callifornia it's illegal to send any battery to the landfill. You can search by zip code for a battery collection site near you at Earth911.org.
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Recycling is always the best way to dispose of batteries. Thanks to the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act passed in 1996, recycling rechargeable batteries is easy for the consumer and the recycler. There are thousands of retailers across the nation that will collect your rechargeable batteries for recycling. Recycling single use alkaline batteries is a bit more of a challenge which is another benefit to choosing rechargeable.
So, Do Your Part this season and try recharging your battery purchase. It's a great accessory to the gift you're giving and more importantly, it's a great gift for our planet. Happy holidays!