"Mind is the battery cell, Intelligence is the switch." ~ Sri Sathya Sai Baba
No, National Battery Day is not meant to give you permission to assault people. Thankfully, there is no holiday when that is acceptable. This year's National Battery Day (February 18) was brought to you by the companies that produce those things that are "not included" whenever you buy your kid a toy that needs a power source.
Yearly, Americans buy approximately three billion batteries to juice-up their cell phones, computers, radios, toys, watches, hearing aids...you name it. At an average length of two inches, strung end to end, those "disposable" energy sources would be 94,700 miles long -- enough to circle the equator almost four times!
And although mercury was banned in the manufacture of alkaline batteries many years ago, many still contain small amounts of this troublesome material and -- for some stupid reason -- this is an unavoidable part of the mining and manufacturing processes. Ya' see, when the other metals in alkaline batteries, like zinc and manganese, are mined, small amounts of mercury end up in the raw ore and aren't removed.
While some establishments accept rechargeable batteries for recycling, most refuse to take the alkaline variety, wrongly assuming that because they "supposedly" don't contain any toxic metals, they can just be put into the trash with all of our other garbage.
But when tossed out with the trash, those batteries eventually pollute lakes and streams -- they can leach from landfills and therefore expose the environment and ground water to lead and acid and mercury. But between you and me -- I think that we can and should recycle all those AAA, AA, C and D alkaline batteries.
And I'm apparently not alone in my thinking. Programs like the Big Green Box are doing what they can to keep alkaline batteries out of landfills by recycling and recovering the metals in every type of battery. From their U.S. collection locations alkaline batteries are sorted and shipped to a Canadian facility that crushes them to recover the zinc, manganese, mercury and steel.
Walgreen's, IKEA, Best Buy, Whole Foods and Green Depot are among other businesses that offer collection sites for your used alkaline batteries. But in the states that "require" consumers to recycle their alkaline batteries, there are many more businesses that participate.
The need for batteries to run our 21st Century lifestyle is only going to grow (although they may soon be overtaken by fuel cells), so instead of continuing to purchase something that's bound to stop working, may I suggest that you consider using the newfangled rechargeable batteries instead? Unlike the rechargables from years back, the newest varieties can be recharged easily at home or in your place of business at any available electrical wall outlet, and they actually hold their charge.
And my new, most favorite kind of rechargables are the ones that can actually be charged via a USB port on your computer. They're ingenious! However, I've only found these USB-type rechargables online.
Many of the newest types of rechargeable batteries can be re-used up to 1,000 times, which, if you add it up, is a tremendous savings over their life span even though up-front they cost more to buy than the "disposable" varieties.
So, next time you're out shopping for batteries, forget the ones that will die on you in a week, and instead, pick up lithium-ion or NiMH types. They contain fewer toxic metals, hold a charge, and won't pollute the planet. And just think -- while you're saving precious cash and valuable resources, and safely using your new rechargeable batteries over and over and over again, that poor little Energizer Bunny will have keeled over and died a long time ago!
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