Digital Photography is very green. Take a lot of pictures, delete a lot of pictures, save paper, avoid processing chemicals—yes, environmentally sound. Except for the batteries.
To make matters worse, my personal digital camera is a power hog. It has a stabilization feature that can drain batteries in less than a photo shoot. Turning it off helps some, but I never plan anything photographic without at least one set of spares.
And I recently got the startling news that some batteries aren’t even recyclable. According to Clean Wisconsin, your standard alkaline AA batteries (like my camera uses) should just get tossed in the trash—there is currently no effective means of recycling these. (Other batteries do contain hazardous materials, so we’ll probably continue to drop off anything we are uncertain about at the recycling center and of course, keep them away from children.)
Shortly after I started blogging, my husband brought home a battery charger with batteries for me, motivated by my unending requests for new batteries. I was dragging my feet but without a hint of analysis paralysis he headed to the nearest drug store for a basic charger rather than the (really expensive) best-fit-for-my-camera variety. It’s worked great. Since then I’ve learned that Nickel-Metal Hydride rechargeable batteries are less toxic and better performing than the Nickel Cadmium (no surprise given the recent cadmium laced kids jewelry scandal) and those are fortunately what I have. For the ins and outs of different batteries you can learn more at: http://michaelbluejay.com/batteries/
Now nothing in life is simple and before going gung ho on a conversion, you should make sure that your planned use is appropriate for rechargeables. For example, they should not be used in smoke detectors; they don’t last long, go from charged to dead at a rapid speed, and may fade into silence before the annoying beeps goad you into changing them. Low current, intermittent use items like remote controls or emergency torches are other poor choices. But many high use items like toys and cameras—some of our big DC power hogs–make excellent candidates. (Of course, if you use your camera twice a year, it may be better classified as intermittent use)
I have been very pleased with my rechargeable batteries and even took them on my recent vacation, charging them under beds and in bathrooms of strangely wired hotel rooms. In a year of blogging (it is just past my anniversary!), I think I’ve saved a fortune—and perhaps a landfill.
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