To recharge or not to recharge… that is the question! Are rechargeable batteries really a good idea?
When I first heard of rechargeable batteries, I was instantly sold on the idea. I mean, with all the electronics we have nowadays, we go through batteries almost as much as we go through toilet paper! What’s not to love about batteries you can plug in for a recharge instead of tossing in the trash, and having to shell over more and more money for new ones?
Tossing anything metal—or other things that don’t seem like they decompose easily—is hard for me anyway. So it was no surprise that I fell in love with an alternative.
So, we jumped on the rechargeables bandwagon quickly, and like with anything else, there are pros and cons. Some brands last longer than others, some chargers work better than others, some devices work well with them, and some not.
While in theory, you should be able to use rechargeable batteries for a very long time, at some point you do have to worry about disposal. When I looked into how to properly dispose of these batteries, the waters got murky.
Most towns have instructed their residents to include regular household alkaline batteries in with their normal garbage. But instructions on rechargeables are not as clear—most only say not accepted and offer no further advice on what to do with them.
Are rechargeable batteries safe?
It really depends on the type of battery you’re using. Some are harmful mainly to the people making them, some are harmful if allowed to leak, some are harmful only if incinerated—and almost all are harmful to dogs, if swallowed!
It seems like there are a few choices for lesser-evil on the rechargeable side, such as Lithium Ion, NiMH, Silver Oxide, and Zinc Air.
For me, it’s all a bit overwhelming and has actually inspired me to use less things that require batteries, so as to reduce my battery footprint.
Here are some ways to reduce our battery footprint:
- Less toys: do your kids really need eighteen different toys that light up, spin, and/or talk to them?
- Bring back the wires: not everything needs to be wireless (and yes, they do still have wired gaming controllers!!)
- Combine devices: most of us don’t really need a camera, GPS, calculator and alarm clock when we have all that and more built into our cell phones.
- Choose the right type of rechargeable: devices that plug in to recharge instead of having removable batteries that you must purchase, recharge and dispose of separately.
- Be smart about charging: make sure you are charging devices completely (especially the first charge), and letting them fully deplete the charge before recharging.
- Unplug. From everything—as much as you can.
Listen to this Green Divas Tech Timeout Meditation by Green Diva Meg…
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