6 On Your Side: Consumer Confidence, Switching to Rechargeable Batteries
(ABC 6 News) – Batteries are something many of us rely on to power up our TV remote or a flashlight during a storm. If you have kids, you know the constant demand for fresh batteries to turn on all those toys.
Meghan Patterson and her family have been using rechargeable batteries for about eight years.
“I worry a lot about our environmental impact when it comes to things like batteries,” says Patterson.
Both rechargeable and single-use batteries contain toxic chemicals and heavy metals that can pollute the environment. They both also require water and energy in the manufacturing process and release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
But a 2016 study, in The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, says that rechargeable batteries are more sustainable than disposables after you’ve used them at least 50 times – something that shouldn’t be a problem for many families!
“With kids’ toys, we go through batteries all the time,” says Patterson. “Now I don’t feel guilty about it.”
Consumer Reports says toys and wireless mice are great places to use rechargeables since they usually draw a lot of power over a short period of time.
“You know, you buy them once and you can recharge them around a thousand or so times,” explains Shanika Whitehurst, Consumer Reports Product Sustainability.
Just make sure you also buy a charger that can accommodate all the different sizes you’ll be using.
As for single-use batteries, CR says they hold a charge longer and are best for things like smoke detectors and emergency tools like flashlights.
“That’s what they’re designed to have a slow discharge for—those types of items where you kind of need them on the ready,” says Whitehurst. Although in the Patterson house, toys may also fall into that category.
Remember, all batteries, even the rechargeable ones, eventually die. If you’ve ever left batteries in an old device and found that they leaked, you can just imagine what happens to them in a landfill.
To help keep those toxic chemicals out of the environment, Consumer Reports suggests you recycle them.