In the United States, 3 billion batteries are sold every year. When discarding the batteries, most end up in the trash, but once batteries begin deterioration, dangerous chemicals seep into the ground which can contaminate some of our food and water supply. The Healthy Heritage club began a battery collection in November. Their goal is to prevent batteries from ending up in a landfill while also teaching students about how detrimental rotting batteries are to society.
Recycling batteries helps cut back on carbon dioxide emissions because mining metals and the battery production increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. The club uses repurposed containers (that would have otherwise been dumped in a landfill) placed around campus, to collect the batteries. Once a bin begins to fill up, the club advisor and honors chemistry teacher, Dr. Julia Couper brings the batteries to a store that recycles them. For example, Best Buy has battery recycling containers by their front door.
The Healthy Heritage club constantly proposes ideas to the school to reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills. Healthy Heritage has an organic garden which has grown and expanded for the past five years. They are in their fifth year of composting which is used as the soil for the garden. Furthering their environmental endeavors, Healthy Heritage also recycles textiles and repurposes clothing instead of letting it ending up in a landfill. Starting in May, the club will collect used clear backpacks to donate to others or recycle the plastic.
As for what the club is still working on, for the past three years they have requested to switch away from using plastic utensils to something more biodegradable. The club has also requested the removal of plastic water bottles and Styrofoam from the campus along with unhealthy vending machine items. Dr. Lori recently announced the switch from plastic utensils to a more compostable brand and encouraged the use of reusable water bottles. The club also requested that birthday balloons be replaced with a more compostable option and that the use of plastic bags by security be reduced.
The club plans to continue collecting batteries for years to come. They hope that cleaner technology, even more so than that in rechargeable batteries (which eventually die), will replace regular batteries. Once this happens, the club will no longer need to host a battery collection. “The best possible impact would be that students would find cleaner power then batteries provided, or they would choose other activities that don’t require batteries. Second, if batteries are in necessity, we hope students will choose rechargeable batteries. Finally, at the very least, we hope students will choose not to throw their used batteries in the trash and instead that they will recycle them,” Dr. Couper said.