Recharge and Recyle: How to Minimize Battery Purchases and Disposals

Every year, Americans power up with 3 billion dry-cell batteries, yet only one in five is rechargeable and only 10 percent get recycled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That means most batteries are incinerated or dumped in the landfill, where the heavy metals inside them contaminate the environment. To minimize your battery purchases and disposals, follow these tips.

Recharge: One rechargeable battery can potentially replace hundreds of single-use batteries. It also can have 500 to 1,000 charge cycles and last a decade.

Recycle: Battery recycling keeps hazardous toxins out of the waste stream and recovers valuable materials. To find battery recycling programs, visit Earth 911 or the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation.

Go solar: Drop the batteries and choose devices with solar power cells built in (like many calculators have) or purchase a solar charger for your computer or cell phone.

Choose a capacitor: Some radios and flashlights now feature inner capacitors. (The same technology has been used in watches for years; simple hand movements keep them ticking.) Just crank and go.

*Note: Always use single-use batteries, which can hold a charge longer and more reliably, for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and for flashlights or GPS devices on backcountry trips.