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Why depend on disposable batteries to power your electronic devices when there are many affordable solar and hand-crank options available? They're great for the beach, to have on hand for emergencies, and to take camping or boating. Save money on batteries and save the planet at the same time!

Find it! Rechargeable-battery outdoor gear

Human-powered devices allow you to hand-crank your way to clean energy. Some gear—flashlights and radios for instance—come with built-in solar power strips. But for those devices without their own power-generating capacity (think cell phones and laptops), choose a portable solar charger.

Choosing rechargeable-battery outdoor gear helps you go green because…

  • It reduces the number of batteries going to landfills and hazardous waste facilities.
  • Using fewer batteries reduces the amount of toxic heavy metals—namely mercury, cadmium, lead, and nickel—found in some batteries, that will end up in the air, soil, groundwater, and surface water.
  • Solar-powered devices operate reliably with virtually no environmental impact.

Americans buy over $5 billion worth of outdoor gear annually[1] and nearly 3 billion household batteries in the same time period.[2] Different types of batteries are composed of a variety of materials, but in all of them an electrolyte and heavy metal combine to make power.[2] Mercury, cadmium, lead, and nickel are heavy metals found in some batteries that can pollute the environment and cause a potential risk to human health if they are thrown away with ordinary household trash.[3] Batteries make up less than 1 percent of our municipal solid waste, but the amount of toxic heavy metals they contribute is much higher. In 1995, nickel cadmium (nicad) batteries accounted for three-quarters of the cadmium found in municipal solid waste, and 65 percent of the lead came from small sealed lead-acid (SSLA) batteries.

Harnessing the power of the sun

Solar collectors are generally made of tiny crystalline silicon disks attached to metal conductors, and can be mounted almost anywhere to take advantage of free, clean solar energy from the sun.[4] The semiconducting materials in solar devices absorb sunlight, causing electrons to flow, producing electricity.[5] Solar energy is generated cleanly and without producing air pollution during operation.[6][7]

Related health issues

About 73 percent of US municipal solid waste ends up incinerated or landfilled, and heavy metals can leach into the soil, ground, and surface water from landfills—or into the air during incineration—and make their way into the food chain. If heavy metals are ingested or inhaled through water, food, or air, potential health risks include headaches, stomach discomfort, comas, and seizures. Cadmium and several heavy metals are also carcinogens.[8]

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