When I returned home from work last night, I discovered my wife, Gina the Gorgeous, happily working on our Christmas decorations. As part of this extravaganza, Gina was activating some battery-powered garlands festooned with LEDs that she was planning on draping around our front door (well, if the truth be told, she was planning on having yours truly drape these little rascals around our front door).
I don't know how Gina found these garlands in our loft (I thought I'd hidden them better than that). I was also somewhat surprised to discover that she had located and ravaged my emergency supply of D-type batteries — the ones intended for lanterns and radios in the case of a power outage (fortunately I have a super-secret reserve emergency supply of batteries that Gina doesn't know about — at least I don't think she does — plus I now have
my precious my trusty emergency generator).
The thing was that Gina ended up surrounded by a bunch of old D-type cells from the last time we used these garlands. A lot of people simply discard their old batteries in the trash, but this is an incredibly bad idea (it's also illegal in most places). It's hard to pin this sort of thing down, but if you perform a quick Google search while no one is looking, you will find estimates of around 3 billion batteries being discarded in the United States each year. Many of these little scamps find their way into landfills or incinerators, thereby releasing all sorts of unpleasant substances — including mercury, lead, cadmium, nickel, and other metals — into the environment.
The problem is that a lot of people simply don't know where to take their old batteries. Also, most people are inherently lazy and incredibly busy and don't feel they have the time to deal with things appropriately. The end result is that — even though people may know that it's wrong and feel bad about it — they often discard their old batteries in the trash.
This is sad, because there are lots of places for you to take your old batteries. For example, Call2Recycle is a non-profit organization that collects and recycles batteries at no cost for municipalities, businesses, and consumers. I just checked online, and they have 12 locations close to me, including Lowes, Home Depot, and Radio Shack. I typically drop my old batteries off at my local Batteries Plus Bulbs store. These stores, which are located all over the place, boast that they can supply more than 45,000 different types of batteries and light bulbs for all one's personal, business, and commercial needs. (My local store is located at 6290 University Drive, NW, Huntsville, Ala. If you happen to live around here, feel free to drop in and say “Hi” to them.)
Having said all of this, we all know that there are still going to be people who cannot be bothered to take their old batteries to a recycling facility. They may shrug their shoulders and grimace a little, but they will still toss their old batteries into the trash. What we need to do is make things easy for them to do the right thing.
When I came into my office this morning, for example, I stuck a “Battery Recycling Station” sign on a cardboard box, which I then placed next to the coffee machine in the kitchen. Just to get the ball rolling (and to make sure everyone got the idea), I pre-populated the box with the old D-type cells from our Christmas garlands.
Whenever this box starts to fill up, I'll empty it into a carrier bag and transport all of the batteries down to my local Batteries Plus Bulbs store for recycling.
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