We use a lot of batteries. They don't create carbon emissions when inserted into a walkie-talkie or a digital camera. I'm sure parts of the battery's shipping, production and recycling processes release carbon emissions, but their actual use does not. The greenest part of a battery's life is when they are in your hands, being used for their intended purposes. That means it is your responsibility to keep them alive as long as possible before sending them to the recyclers. Here are some tips.
Painfully, painfully obvious. But a good place to start. Buy rechargeable batteries for obvious reasons. Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) are better than rechargeable alkaline batteries. NiMHs can be charged thousands of times before they need to be disposed of or recycled (try Call2Recycle which has thousands of drop-off locations in the U.S. and Canada). If you are not going to recharge, then buy alkaline batteries. They maintain their power longer than NiMH batteries. NiMH's are terrible if you don't plan on recharging them.
Charge Before It's Too Late
You can charge NiMH batteries any time you feel like. They lose their power quickly, so you'll probably recharge them a lot. Luckily, it doesn't take that much electricity to charge them. Make sure to remove the charger from the wall socket when you are done charging. Rechargeable alkaline batteries will last longer if they are charged often. A fully depleted battery is a short-lived battery.
Use the Right Battery for the Job
A digital camera will drain the life out of an alkaline battery faster than Dracula on a peasant. Make sure to buy alkalines that are specially designed for high-drain applications. Maplin batteries, for example.
Remove Batteries From Seldom-used Devices
At Halloween you may have purchased a plastic skull in a barrel that has a motion sensor attached. When someone passed that device, the skull popped out and said something both corny and chilling. When Halloween was over, you should have taken the batteries out of the device. Store them in a dry, cool place.
Put Batteries in the Fridge
This works great for NiMH batteries. They'll retain 9/10 of a full charge while stored in the fridge. At room temperature, there is a possibility that they'd keep only a fraction of that fraction. Alkaline batteries are a bit more controversial. Studies have shown that alkaline battery life is extended by only 5% if kept in the fridge. That's not a whole lot, but if you live in a hot climate, your batteries may actually deplete because of it, making the alkaline-battery-in-the-fridge idea a worthwhile one. If you live in Alaska, your batteries are probably all right sitting in a drawer in the pantry.
NOTE: Make sure to warm up batteries to room temperature before using. Additional, if you need batteries for an emergency, remember to keep a set out of the fridge for just such emergencies.
For more tips and information about batteries, see the next page.
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