I Found An Unlimited Supply of Cheap Batteries at the Library
Rechargeable batteries aren’t cheap. And buying and trashing batteries ain’t cheap either. But I think I’ve found a limitless supply of cheap batteries and I bet you can too.
The key is that most battery chargers don’t charge alkaline batteries, the most common kind of battery, the cheapest, and the kind that most often ends up in the trash. When people think of rechargeables, they think of NiMH (nickel metal hydride), NiCd (nickel cadmium), and Lithium batteries. And these rechargeables aren’t cheap.
Step One: Get a Charger That Recharges Cheap Alkaline Batteries
That’s right: this is an inexpensive battery charger at Amazon that costs less than $30 and recharges NiCd, NiMH, and alkaline batteries. It also has smart circuitry that recharges them appropriately for their chemistry and doesn’t overcharge them blindly. I’ve been using this charger for years with almost no problem. (The LCD display is a corroding a little.)
Step Two: Find an Unlimited Supply of Cheap Batteries
You might already have a lot of spent or half-spent cheap batteries lying around the house. If so, you know what to do.
If not, search the web for battery recycling locations in your area. Hardware stores, electronics stores, and libraries often have battery recycling as a public service.
For me, the motherlode was the public library. There are all kinds of goodies in that bin, and fortunately it’s just a little blue recycling trash bucket that I can easily sort through. (You may want to pick your cheap battery source carefully so you won’t have to dig into anything awkward.) I found not only tons of alkaline batteries of all sizes, but also some nice NiMH rechargeables.
Of course, there are some caveats. Some of the batteries in the bin can be falling apart, and some may look new but have faulty chemistry so they don’t hold a charge. Make sure to inspect your new cheapo batteries carefully to ensure they aren’t cracked or discolored; those aren’t worth taking home to recharge. Any dark spots in the casing are indications that the guts are leaking through a crack. Leave those behind to be recycled as God and the engineers intended.
Step Three: Charge and Enjoy
You are now living large as a card-carrying member of the electrified elite. No more buying pounds and pounds of batteries at Costco and feeling guilty about contributing to the death of the planet. No more thrashing around looking for an elusive live AAA battery for a new device. Congrats!