BeyondConsumerism

Providing tools and support to families, citizens, and activists to counter our consumerist culture and to create new social norms about how to have a high quality of life and a reduced ecological footprint.

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Batteries

Rechargeable batteries are readily available—you'll save money in the long run and keep toxic chemicals out of the landfill. You should also recycle all your batteries.

What to Look For

The two most popular rechargeable battery types are nickel-cadmium (NiCd) and nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH). Both can be recharged hundreds of times. However, there are several reasons why NiMH may be the better choice: NiCd batteries contain cadmium, a highly toxic heavy metal, whereas, according to the EPA, NiMH batteries are non-toxic. NiMHs are available with more total energy storage capacity than NiCds, and can be charged more quickly than NiCds. Finally, NiMH are not plagued by the "memory" effect that reduces the life of NiCds when not fully drained before recharging.

Why It's Important

Non-rechargeable alkaline batteries have short lives and can quickly load up our landfills. In 1998 alone, over 3 billion industrial and household batteries were sold, and most of these were non-rechargeable. U.S. laws have phased out most toxic mercury from alkaline batteries, but trace amounts still exist and cumulatively they continue to pose a threat. And as most landfills are located near low-income housing, these toxics pose an undue threat to citizens least equipped to deal with the health issues that may arise.

landfillApproximately 70 percent of municipal solid waste is either landfilled or incinerated, which are poor disposal methods for products that can contain lead, mercury, or heavy metals like cadmium. In landfills, heavy metals have the potential to leak slowly into soil and ground water, and incinerators can spew toxics into the atmosphere. Auto batteries provide a telling example: Although auto batteries represent less than one percent of total waste, they account for about two-thirds of the lead in municipal solid waste.

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