How recycling can save your sanity

Filed in Blog by on June 18, 2014 2 Comments
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batteries-recycling-sign-NHE-14134_300 When Little Miss Green was a bit more Little than she is now, we used to have ‘quiet time’ each afternoon.

It involved me telling Little Miss Green that it was infact *her* quiet time where she had to go to her room to play for an hour.

She’d go off to have pirate meetings with smuggler Ben and Tom or faerie conferences or, if I was lucky she’d lie down and read which meant I really DID get ‘quiet’ time!

My penchant is to go to bed and lie with headphones on listening to some of my favourite music. Music can change my mood in an instant so it’s a great way to spend an hour.

I have one of those portable cd players which I’ve had for years which means I don’t have to hang out of bed to change the disc or skip a track that is bothering me.

One Sunday afternoon I was deep in the bowels of my listening pleasures when it stopped playing because the batteries ran out.

Ack! You know how annoying that is, right?

It was a Sunday and I live in an area where shops do not open on a Sunday afternoon. What is a girl to do?

Did I get angry, throw the player across the floor or swear loudly?


I simply walked downstairs to the under stairs cupboard (which at the time housed a hedgehog by the way; I must tell you about that on another day) and grabbed a couple of freshly charged batteries from my stash!

Yes that’s right; it doesn’t matter if my batteries fail on a Sunday afternoon or at 3am; I Always have access to fresh ones.

I can’t tell you how much difference that has made to my life.

But of course, it isn’t just about the convenience; it’s all about the landfill too.

You see we have a digital camera, MP3 player, torches, emergency lighting dotted around the house because we frequently have powercuts, clocks, wireless keyboards and mice; ALL of which require battery juice.

When you’re buying Duracells for that lot; it can be one heck of an expense every year, not to mention the inconvenience of batteries running out. I would like to be able to say that when I used to replace batteries I would buy a new set for when they ran out, but I never did.

So now I love my recharger and I would heartily recommend that everybody gets on. They work out cheaper in the long run, it’s far more convenient because you never get caught out without battery power and more importantly, you are saving some of the 600 million household batteries (22,000 tonnes) sent to tour UK landfill every year.

Unfortunately, all chargers are not the same. This is where a lot of people try one out, get into a spot of bother and hail all recyclable batteries as rubbish.

Poorly engineered chargers can damage batteries, shorten their lifetime, and/or leave them incompletely charged.

Some rechargers start to ‘discharge’ the battery when it has reached full capacity rather than turning off the charge so you end up with less power than you would anticipate.

Improper charging can result in a reduced number of charge cycles over the batteries’ lifetime and in reduced energy capacity.

Other chagers generate excessive heat when the battery is getting ‘full’ which can be detrimental to the life cycle of the battery.

So do your research and buy a suitable gadget for the job.

According to market research carried out by WRAP, 85% of people said they would be encouraged to recycle if they knew where to take unwanted batteries.

So here you go: Tap your postcode into the Recycle now website to see where your nearest battery recycling service is……

Just be aware that rechargeables can suddenly run out, so they are best not used in smoke alarms.

In 2001 the British public bought 680 million batteries, most of which were non-rechargeable. And  shame on us – we only recycled 2% of our once-use batteries. That resulted in an estimated 19,000  tonnes of waste material being put into the landfill.

When the batteries eventually corrode, heavy  metals leach into the ground, contributing to soil and water pollution and endangering wildlife.

We’re not going to lose our love of handy gadgets any time soon, so use rechargeable batteries as much as possible and use appliances that  can be powered from solar or wind-up mechanisms such as radios, torches and mobile phone  chargers.

What about you – do you use rechargeable batteries?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (2)

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  1. Julie Day says:

    I take my used batteries to our nearest Sainsbury’s when we shop there, as they have a recycling tube there for them.

  2. Philippa says:

    Since your post in 2009 on batteries those businesses that sell more than a certain number of batteries are required to have battery recycling points: so if we look we’ll find these in many stores. Many Councils are also collecting them kerbside – ours is and we need to collect them together (I use a jam jar until I have quite a few and then use a see-through plastic bag eg one a magazine came in to put them out kerbside or just take them to the supermarket.) We no longer have so many.

    Where we were using them most – in Grandad’s magnifying glass and radio. I tried to use rechargeable ones. Each week I would visit him and recharge some and replace those in his gadgets. He can’t use mains electricity because he would trip over the flex for the radio and for the magnifying glass because one like a shaver or toothbrush hasn’t been invented yet (when I researched they told me to invent it myself and I just haven’t got round to it). But he couldn’t tell/see the difference between rechargeable ones and ordinary ones and wanted to replace the batteries himself as and when he felt they were needed. It was too stressful so I gave up.

    What I did do was find a little battery tester online costing just a few pounds which can be used to check those random batteries that you find lying around which no-one admits responsibility for. You can also then check whether it is the gadget or batteries which are at fault. Some of them also have a bulb checker – useful to check the bulb on a torch. What was interesting was that the batteries for the magnifying glass were still showing good when discarded. (It just shows how poor his sight is.) I found another use for them. (WARNING: Don’t mix the types of batteries!)

    The other place we use/d batteries was torches. It always seemed to be that when you needed the torch the battery was flat and so often had leaked and wrecked the torch. When after trying I still couldn’t make it work we moved on to wind-up torches. We have a safety light which is always plugged in and goes on when the lights go out/it gets dark and which will stay on for quite a while should the electricity go off. You can (although it is a bit fiddly) take it off the wall and use it as a torch. (The one that was a torch and easy to take off the wall was promptly taken off by someone and lost.) Win some lose some!

    We also have a couple of solar lights/torches bought at Ecobuild a couple of years ago from a stand for a charity providing lighting for schools in Africa so that children can do their homework without using the kerosene lamps which if accidentally knocked over can cause fire and disfigurement. Buy One Give One. I liked that idea.

    The situation has changed quite a lot and we have moved quite a way within the waste hierarchy triangle with batteries!

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