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Recycling Batteries Can Help Save the Environment

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By Jaime Bedrin

I’ve got a new kid. And with babies come lots of toys that require batteries: swings, mobiles, white noise machines, breast pumps, vibrating seats, bouncy seats to keep at grandma’s house. You get the picture. I’ve got an assortment of batteries in sizes that would rival a lingerie store.

Trouble is, used batteries = waste. In fact the EPA says Americans purchase nearly 3 billion dry-cell batteries every year. Part of the problem is that batteries contain heavy metals that can be harmful to the environment when improperly discarded.

I could try rechargeable batteries, but I haven’t loved them in the past. When I’m in the field reporting a radio story, I need a reliable energy source. And I don’t always have a way to recharge batteries on the go. So I decided to find a way to recycle my Duracells and Energizers.

Turns out, the building where I teach at Columbia University’s School of Journalism has a bin for batteries. It’s located just outside of the student center, next to other recycling bins and a trash can. But I’m not sure many students know about it. (I’ve also learned that you can recycle batteries at Whole Foods.)

I was at the school the other day and I deposited several batteries into the receptacle. But I was unhappy to see that some people used the bin for their trash. Sometimes I wonder if people are lazy or if they are simply unaware of recycling options.

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I’m a big believer in the whole ‘if you build it, they will come,’ mantra. I assumed that students – especially journalism students -- would gravitate toward green trends and recycle. But I was wrong. Journalists do a lot of preaching about protecting Mother Earth, but we’re also wasteful. Ultimately I wonder what it’s going to take to get everyone to pitch in?


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