Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rechargable Batteries & the Awareness of Little Things

This blog entry is about batteries… yes, it is a bit off-topic regarding birds. I am very excited to share with you handfuls of ideas on how to make more ecologically-sound decisions in your lifestyle, and to become more aware of overall resource consumption (which in turn, can help wildlife in the long run... including cute little Boreal Chickadees mentioned in past blogs)! The first topic I thought I’d write about is a simple, yet thought-out purchase of batteries. Take a look around your house... are there any batteries being used nearby?

I was in need of some batteries today. Due to having a wireless mouse for my computer (it’s a low-energy-consuming mouse)... a small set of batteries was on my list of things to get today. I try to minimize my need for batteries on a regular basis. As with most people nowadays, one of the most regularly used batteries is a heavy and bulky car battery, and my other battery needs are for my camera - for all of the bird photography I do, and for my wireless computer mouse. From the get-go, if you can walk the distance to where you need to go (within reason), why not walk instead of drive? Riding the bike, rollerblading, and many other options are available too, depending on the season of course. I have walked the 20 minute walk to the grocery store from my house many times when the temperatures were just above/below 0F this winter. You bundle up, you experience the refreshing cold, and you get a work out - it's a win-win situation right there :-)

I had a few other things to get done in town today, and while shopping around came across the wide selection of vividly-colored battery packages. Without question, I didn’t even bother to consider some of the standard, non-rechargeable batteries. One brand of non-rechargeable batteries were even on sale, but the thought of disposing batteries after a one-time use is out of the picture. Two brands were left for rechargeable that the store had in stock (the off-brand rechargeable weren’t in stock). Energizer and Duracell. I was unaware of any ecologically-supportive actions/contributions that either of these companies made, and wanted to read some of the fine print on the back of each package, just in case…

As I held each of the 4-pack containers of AA batteries, I noticed that the Duracell package was almost entirely plastic, with a thin strip of paper just dazzled to no end, to get buyer’s attention. Although nearly the same size as the Duracell package, the Energizer package was mainly paper-based, with a small “compartment” of plastic just large enough to contain the batteries within the paper housing. You might be thinking “where in the heck is Erik going with this?? It’s a little bit of easily-disposable packaging, that takes up the same size for each of the batteries he is considering; plus, it's barely anything.”

That’s true; each container was about the same size. Here’s the kicker :) The Duracell packaging is almost entirely plastic… which is derived from crude oil… which increases our need for off-shore oil drilling, “harvesting” the oil sands in Canada, and demanding more oil from other sources located throughout the world. The little bit of paper in this packaging didn’t mention anything about origins of the paper, or harvesting practices that were taken place in order to produce this little piece of paper. As a whole, the Duracell batteries seemed like most other high-tech products nowadays... sealed in thick layers of fused plastic.

The Energizer package, with nearly-identical product size, had significantly less plastic used. There was just enough plastic to contain the batteries, and hold them together within the paper housing. On the backside of was the SFI logo (Sustainable Forestry Initiative, note in the lower right corner on the back of the packaging). This label ensures that the paper/pulp harvested for making this product was done so in a sustainable manner, and was not harvested from “controversial sources.” There is no perfect world for large-scale harvesting of forests; however it is these organizations and certifications that help ensure we will not instantaneously deplete our forests due to the high-demand for paper. Last spring and summer, I worked on the logging roads, doing bird surveys within the mountainous “tree farms,” as they are known as. Although it would be wonderful to see the large sections of land just left alone, it was very reassuring to see how well the long-term use of forested lands were harvested, then planted, grown, and as a whole, protected.

The link below will take you to more information regarding SFI:

Going back to the Duracell vs. Energizer packaging – I am not implying that Energizer is an incredibly “green” company, however during my purchase today, I feel that I made the most ecologically-minded purchase between these two options. The small, un-numbered pieces of plastic in both battery packages cannot be recycled, however the paper can! These four batteries that I purchased today can be charged up to 250 times! Recyclable batteries pay for themselves, especially for people who happen to use batteries on a more frequent basis. Recycling smaller batteries is quite rare, but is slowly becoming more common, mostly in more heavily-populated areas of where we live. If you can reuse/recharge goods, you'll minimize your impact on how much waste is created in the long run!

Sometimes it’s the small things, and the food-for-thought moments, that can lead to a life of raised awareness about what we consume, what we need, and even when considering money; which companies we choose to support via our purchases. Just something to think about until next time! Speaking of which, can you find the deep-in-thought Boreal Chickadee in this photo?

Good birdwatching, and thanks for reading!


1 comment:

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