Look at all the gadgets around your home that need batteries: TV remotes, video game controllers, flashlights (you need several for emergencies), smoke alarms and toys. But whenever those batteries die out, don't include them in your regular household trash that goes straight to the landfill. Batteries are made of toxic metals—lead, cobalt and cadmium—and are harmful to the planet.
Instead, bring them to the Beverly Hills Farmers' Market on the first Sunday of every month. You can safely dispose of them there along with electronic waste such as cell phones, computers, monitors and old TVs.
Another option to rid yourself of old batteries is to do so while returning your library books. Drop off your dead single-use batteries from AAA to D in the canister at the circulation desk of the Beverly Hills Public Library.
Then there's the Hazardous Household Waste Roundup, a free and convenient service sponsored by the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. Beverly Hills hosts the event once a year.
This year it took place on Oct. 2 at the Beverly Hills Public Works facility on Foothill Road. More than 400 households brought in refuse that's not fit for the landfill, such as electronic waste, expired pharmaceuticals, motor oil, antifreeze and paint. There were 100 more Beverly Hills participants in 2010 than in 2009, according to Arnetta Eason, management analyst for the county's public works department.
So what did we rope in at this roundup? Almost 800 pounds of dry cell batteries; 18 gallons of motor oil; 18 gallons of antifreeze; 840 gallons of paint; 27 car batteries; and 67 monitors and televisions were collected.
So what happens next? "We separate by type and by chemical makeup, and transport everything to the appropriate locations, then destroy or recycle safely following strict guidelines," said Joe Reilly, senior engineer for the county's sanitation districts and manager of the Hazardous Household Waste Roundup in conjunction with Eason.
If you missed the Beverly Hills roundup, there are other household hazardous waste drop-off locations around L.A.
To reduce the frequency of your battery disposal visits, take steps to prolong their lifespans. At home I turn off my wireless mouse along with the computer. I also began transitioning to rechargeable batteries. Another idea is to purchase products that don't require batteries at all, such as eco-friendly toys from Auntie Barbara's Kids.