Rechargeable batteries are better for the planet — and less expensive in the long run.


Americans throw away 3 billion batteries a year.

My parents and grandparents lived by the adage, “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” Our generation’s version lacks the frugal connotation, but we reduce, reuse and recycle in their footsteps.

The recycling-to-trash ratio in my household is about 3:1 because we consider the environmental costs as well as the dollar price when we shop. I find it interesting and gratifying that the more sustainable choice is often less expensive in the long run. Batteries are a good example.

Our family goes through a lot of AA alkaline batteries. Smoke detectors, remote controls, wireless weather stations, clocks, computer keyboard and mouse, game devices, and flashlights all need routine battery replacement. They really add up, too; my wireless keyboard and mouse alone use 30 AA batteries per year. At Costco battery prices, that’s about $6.25 per year plus 30 batteries’ worth of chemicals, metal housing, and plastic packaging. When I consider the total number and impact of battery-operated devices in my house, the monetary and environmental bottom lines quickly start to climb.

Rechargeable alkaline batteries offer a new and more sustainable alternative to disposable alkaline batteries. Unlike rechargeable NiMH (nickel metal hydride) and NiCd (nickel cadmium) batteries, the new alkalines don’t contain toxic metals and they have a very long shelf life without losing power. The batteries hold their charge for years in storage, making them ideal for hard-to-reach and infrequently used devices, such as flashlights and remote weather stations. They can be recharged hundreds of times.

Obviously, the rechargeable alkaline batteries are better for the environment than disposables, but price is definitely a factor, especially since we need so many of them. So, I did the math. My keyboard/mouse combo burns through $1.25 worth of disposable batteries about every 10 weeks. That’s 150 throwaway batteries and more than $31 in five years. Six alkaline rechargeables, on the other hand, will set me back only $19.50 and will last the entire five years.

Rechargeable alkaline batteries are better for the planet and easier on my pocketbook. Sounds like a win-win to me.

-Ann WhitmanStaff Horticulturist, Gardener’s Supply