Get all charged up

Americans use two billion disposable batteries a year in everything from clocks and watches to toys, cameras, flashlights and radios.

Batteries contain toxic metals and are thus a dangerous waste.  About half of all the mercury and one-fourth of all the cadmium used in the United States goes into batteries.

yet most batteries are thrown out with the trash and end up in landfills, where they may corrode, break apart and release those metals into the soil.  Batteries that get incinerated with other trash release dangerous vapors into the air and ash.

Some simple alternatives

Like some toys, for instance.

The small amount of electricity used is less hazardous to the environment than the battery.  Pollution created by producing electricity is highly regulated and managed.

Plug them into an electrical outlet to power up.

Rechargeables aren't appropriate for some uses, and they are somewhat more expensive than single-use batteries.  However, just a few changes of regular batteries will pay for your investment. 

Rechargables still contain cadmium, but they create less waste because they can be reused up to 1,000 times if used properly.

Take advantage of collections, drop-offs

The Indianapolis Clean City Committee and the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District are two examples of household battery collections.  Both these entities are working in cooperation with area Target stores.   In Indianapolis, the program has expanded so that residents can drop batteries off at all Marion County public libraries.

The Indianapolis program accepts AAA, AA, C, D, 9-volt, cylindrical and button-cell batteries.  In the first six months of the program, 1.4 tons of used household batteries were collected for proper disposal and recycling -- the mercury equivalent of 7,000 household thermometers.

SOURCE:  The Earth Works Group.  50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth.  Berkley, Earth Works Press, 1989.