80°F
weather icon Clear

We need power to make better recycling choices

When you change out the batteries for your flashlight, camera or other devices, what do you do with the used ones? Do you guiltily throw them in the trash, like most people? After all, they are described as single use or “throw-away” batteries. But where do they end up? In the landfill mostly. The same could be said for used computer ink cartridges.

A useful website, http://bit.ly/2czihmv , gives some interesting numbers on batteries.

“The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that each year Americans throw away more than 3 billion batteries. That’s about 180,000 tons of batteries. More than 86,000 tons of these are single-use alkaline batteries. Imagine, placed end-to-end these dead alkaline batteries alone would circle the world at least six times.” And “about 14,000 tons of rechargeable batteries are thrown away in the United States.”

The AA, C and D cells that power electronic toys and games, portable audio equipment and a range of other gadgets make up 20 percent of the household hazardous materials in America’s landfills. Basically, batteries are a hazardous-waste product that, when unopened, are fairly safe to handle.

But when they enter the landfill, they can quickly become damaged, crushed and degraded. Toxic chemicals such as mercury and heavy metals such as cadmium, cobalt and lead, as well as corrosives acids, can escape the casing. When they reach the right temperature or sometimes come in contact with another battery, some of these batteries can explode and can leach toxic fumes into the surrounding soil and water.

Just how bad are these chemicals? The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reports that heavy metals such as cadmium can cause lung damage, kidney disease and death, and lead can damage the kidneys, nervous system and reproductive system.

OK, you say, but these throwaway batteries that end up in the landfill are sealed away forever, right? Not so, it seems. A city needs about one-tenth of an acre per person over 20 years before a landfill can be considered full, and estimates vary on how long a landfill can remain viable after being capped.

I love recycling and have the handy card “Aiming for Zero Waste,” on my fridge, like many other families, and I dutifully recycle many of the items that are listed. I have reduced my weekly waste by about two-thirds. But I am still concerned about what to do with my used batteries.

An inquiry to B.C. Waste Free brought the following response.

“Thanks for your inquiry to B.C. Waste Free. The items you mentioned are treated as household hazardous waste. Those items need to be dropped off at the landfill to be processed and recycled, per Southern Nevada Health District regulations. The landfill is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thanks for helping keep Boulder City “Clean and Green.”

But while I know that batteries are considered hazardous waste I, like many seniors, don’t have transportation to take batteries and similar items to the landfill.

So, how can Boulder City solve this problem? I know the argument about switching to rechargeable batteries, and I even tried solar-rechargeable ones, but they were not as effective or reliable as regular batteries. It would be great if the landfill organizers could provide some public guidelines on used battery disposal or perhaps provide collection bins around town where citizens can dispose of their used batteries.

Maybe place one at the Senior Center of Boulder City and another one in the police station vestibule like the one where they collect unused medications. Anything would be better than throwing them in the trash.

Angela Smith is a Ph.D. life coach, author and educator who has been resident in Nevada since 1992. She can be reached at catalyst78@cox.net.

THE LATEST
Alumni events, marriage and a real Nazi

Ron’s column from a few weeks ago inspired me to tell a story about a weird event from my past. Mine is not as exciting as his in that there is no wrestler named Silo Sam. But there is at least one Nazi. And, no, not the current “I disagree with your politics so you are a Nazi” version. An actual card-carrying member of the party.

Las Vegas Veterans’ Memorial to Boulder City?

Veterans’ memorials can be found all over the Silver State. They are well deserved. They honor individuals who served the nation, and also commemorate battles and events regarding the many military anniversaries in Nevada.

City manager bids fond farewell

I may be leaving Boulder City, but it was not an easy decision. From the first time I came in and met the staff and community leaders, I saw a city filled with people who truly care about where they live and work. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to work with some incredible people.

Is the grass always greener?

Many people in the past played a golf game to cement a business deal, didn’t they? They also played golf to socialize. Has Boulder City recognized lessening play on golf courses? Or, from another perspective, what happens when million-dollar homes are placed around our open space golf course with views of the McCullough Mountains? Do fewer people play golf on the Boulder Creek golf course?

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Shakespeare was the man when it came to comedy and tragedy. His ability to make people feel the intense emotions of the characters is still imitated today. The past few months have been filled with a bit of excited anticipation at City Hall as several longtime and high-level employees have found new roles in other acts. I’m here to borrow some Shakespearean lines, the first being from Ophelia, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” (Hamlet)

Me, my brother and Silo Sam

Recently, I’ve been enjoying watching shows on A&E related to professional wrestling back in the earlier days, with profiles on wrestlers I grew up watching as well as classic rivalries.

Let’s talk about the ‘D Word’

OK, as a starting point, I must note that it’s weird to think that I might be writing something that would put me in agreement with the Language Police.

Make a new plan, Stan

A plan is a method for achieving a desirable objective. It’s a program of action, usually memorialized in writing. Plans start with goals and ideas. But ideas alone (even good ones) don’t constitute a plan.

Time to recognize unsung heroes

We have so many functions within the Boulder City Police Department, from school resource officers to road patrol to the detective bureau. The work that they do keeps Boulder City among the “Safest Cities in Nevada” (newhomesource.com, alarm.com) year after year. One unit is the backbone of our public safety response: Public Safety Dispatchers.

Honoring National Public Health Week

In my eight decades of this amazing life, I have worn a great many hats: son, brother, father, major (USAF), grandfather, council member, state representative, state senator.