the battery project

  • Location
    New York, New York
  • Status
  • Age Level
    Any Age

The Problem

Batteries make up 20% of the household hazardous materials in American landfills. As the battery casing corrodes, chemicals leach into the soil and make their way into our water supply. Eventually they reach the ocean and harm our marine wildlife too. In fact, they adversely affect our entire ecosystem. Batteries that make their way into our environment cause air, water, and soil pollution. Air pollution arrives in the form of greenhouse gas emissions when batteries undergo a photochemical reaction as they decompose in landfills. When harmful chemicals (including metals such as lead, manganese, nickel, mercury, and lithium) and acids from batteries find their way into the water supply, the animals and plants that thrive there get killed. Animals including humans that consume battery contaminated water and fish are jeopardizing their health and get fatal diseases like cancer. When these substances reach the soil, all detrimental effects relating to heavy metals are seen. I noticed a big waste of batteries. Certain sensitive instruments only run on fresh batteries. For example at my doctors office, they would throw away batteries after only 4 hours of use. They said that the batteries were perfectly safe but dropped the efficiency of the life saving machines they were using. So, after a while they had to be changed.

Our Plan

I made and decorated battery collection bins and left them in offices which used a lot of batteries. I went back every 2-3 weeks to collect the batteries. I would take this opportunity to educate the staff about harmful effects of batteries and suggest alternatives like solar powered rechargeable batteries. The collected batteries were then weighed, sorted batteries by size and company. I made sure they were in working condition. Then I recruited my younger brother and his friends to find some pre-used envelopes, decorate them to hide previous marks and writings. We attached a message about reusing batteries and how to dispose of them responsibly. We included our website url for more information on how batteries can harm our environment and our project. Then we filled them with batteries and sealed the envelopes. I gave them away at school, summer camps, Staten Island Zoo, Ocean Breeze Athletic Complex, Indoor horse riding centers, the American Natural History Museum, Ranger stations, to our friends and neighbors and anyone who cared about the environment. I did a table event at the Fresh Kills Park where I was able to reach out to 800 people in a single day. Since 2020 I have distributed 3000 batteries to front line workers. Every battery pack gave me an opportunity to discuss how hazardous these batteries are to our environment. Most people don’t know that batteries have corrosive materials, which leach into the soil once the battery is thrown away. These toxic materials make their way to the water. They pollute the water and harm plants and animals. I love to involve kids younger than me, so I made a team of kids and taught them about my project. We would distribute batteries together. When we give away batteries, it gives us a chance to tell people about the harmful effects of batteries. We can help save our soil, our marine life and even ourselves by the simple act of reusing and recycling. It also gives us an opportunity to talk about other sources of energy like solar and wind power.

Themes Addressed

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    Climate Change
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The Benefit

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