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Your home... batteries

Fast & Easy Info

  • Batteries contain heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium and nickel.
  • Household batteries, especially alkaline and button batteries, are the single largest source of mercury in our trash.
  • Mercury is highly toxic. Long-term exposure can permanently damage the brain, kidneys and fetuses, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Americans purchase 2- 3 billion dry-cell batteries every year to power radios, toys, cellular phones, watches, laptop computers, and portable power tools.
  • Wet-cell batteries, like the nearly 99 million lead-acid car batteries manufactured each year, commonly power automobiles, boats, or motorcycles.
  • Recycling batteries keeps heavy metals out of landfills and the air. Recycling also saves resources because recovered plastic and metals can be used to make new batteries.
  • Over its lifetime, one rechargeable battery may substitute for hundreds of single-use batteries, saving you money and preventing tons of pollution.

Dollars & Sense Options

  • Buy fewer toys, appliances and electronics that rely only on batteries for power. As often as possible, choose products that can be powered electrically or by hand to avoid batteries altogether.
  • Turn off battery-powered appliances when you're not using them to extend the life of the battery. You can even remove the batteries if you're not going to use the appliance for a long period of time.
  • If you do need batteries, choose rechargeables so you use fewer batteries overall. But remember: rechargeables still contain heavy metals like nickel and cadmium.
  • When you've used up any battery, don't toss it in the trash. Save it for a hazardous waste pickup in your community, or take it to your local hazardous waste management facility (check with your city or county government for the nearest location).
  • You can also recycle batteries. Send rechargeables here; throwaways can be recycled here.

More than 300 manufacturers support rechargeable battery recycling by placing the Battery Recycling Seal on rechargeable batteries and portable electronic products. This seal lets you know the battery can be recycled.

For Your Shopping List:


For cell phones, iPods, MP3 players, Game Boys and other portable electronic toys that feature built-in rechargeable battery packs, the Solio solar battery charger is worth a look. Its three solar fan blades capture the sun's energy, convert it to electricity and charge an average cell phone, for example, in about two hours.

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In My House

It's time for true confessions: I've used several different kinds of battery re-chargers, but I haven't been particularly satisfied with any of them. Maybe I'm just not giving them enough time to fully re-charge, because the recharged batteries haven't quite packed the power of the original batteries. If you do buy a re-charger, make sure you allow adequate time for re-charging. Happily, all of our electronics have batteries that can now be electrically re-charged, and we simply don't buy anything that requires throwaway batteries. Our city picks up batteries a couple of times a year, so I keep a box in a bottom drawer in the kitchen where I put the worn out batteries until pick-up day. Meanwhile, my son got a hand-cranked radio for Christmas this year and it works like a charm. No batteries, no electricity. Try it!

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What Else?

Want more information on batteries? Visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency .

Remember: don't throw away batteries. Reuse, recharge, recycle.

Message for Moms: Want to avoid toys that require batteries altogether? Look here for battery-free fun.

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