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Buying Batteries: A Cash Register Dilemma

You are standing at the cash register ready to check out. Suddenly you remember you need batteries for your bike computer. As you reach for a 4-pack of single-use batteries, your eyes lock onto a pack of lithium ion rechargeables. Which one do you choose?

Within seconds, your blissful trip to the grocery store has become a dilemma. You don’t know whether to invest in rechargeable batteries or save them for the future and buy disposables instead. Well, you are not alone. Countless other people have experienced the same thing.

The Price Question

For many of us, the decision ultimately comes down to price. We see the 4-pack of disposables with a price tag of $7.50 as opposed to the 4-pack of rechargeables at nearly $30. It is hard, in that moment, to justify spending three times as much. But hold on a minute.

Pale Blue Earth, a company that manufactures and sells USB rechargeable batteries, has gone to the trouble of doing the math. Their numbers demonstrate that rechargeable lithium ion batteries actually cost less in the long run – but only if you are a regular battery user.

If you are buying new disposable batteries every month for example, you will actually save money by investing in lithium ion rechargeables. If you are merely an occasional battery user – meaning you might buy one pack per year – disposable batteries might end up costing less.

The Recycling Question

For some people, recycling is another consideration. It boils down to the reality that disposable batteries are thrown in the trash while rechargeable batteries can be recycled. How important is recycling to you? Do you already make an effort to recycle paper, glass, and plastic? If so, adding batteries to your effort is not a huge stretch.

Fortunately, more and more retailers are getting on board with recycling lithium-ion batteries. The USB rechargeable batteries you might purchase from Pale Blue Earth are recyclable at thousands of retail locations around the country. When you recycle, you are keeping batteries out of landfills. You are also allowing recyclers to recover reusable materials.

The Environmental Question

Hand-in-hand with recycling is environmental friendliness. While it is true that 1990s legislation removed most of the toxic materials from disposable alkaline batteries, those batteries still take up landfill space. That is not good for the environment. Then there is the question of the energy and resources it takes to produce batteries.

It has been estimated that as many as 3 billion disposable batteries are thrown away every year. That is a lot of energy going into producing a single-use product that doesn’t last very long. On the other hand, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries last longer and, as such, don’t require as much energy or resources to manufacture. That’s better for the environment.

The Convenience Question

Last but not least is the convenience question. This really is a dilemma for some people. Single-use batteries are rather inconvenient when you consider that you always have to have spare batteries on hand just in case the ones that you’re currently using die. And we all know how quickly single-use batteries stop working.

On the other hand, rechargeable batteries never have to run out if you pay attention. Today’s lithium-ion batteries don’t have to be fully discharged before recharging. In fact, it’s better to charge them frequently rather than letting them run out. This makes things more convenient. You are at a lower risk of not having working batteries available when you use rechargeables.

We have all experienced the battery dilemma. Ultimately, each one of us has to decide for ourselves which batteries are best.