In which Dillie The Lazy Cow (DK1) has a tricky conversation with Dillie The Annoying Goody-Goody (DK2)
DK1 FFS. Who’s idea was it to put this in?
DK1 Mine? You mean yours?
DK2 Okay, mine. Whaddevah… Anyway, as I was saying, about batteries…
DK1Wot! Not content with taking away my luxury toilet paper and banning me from using shower gel, you’re telling me I can’t use batteries now?
DK2 Just listen for a minute, would you!
DK1 But I neeeeeed batteries! I use lots of them! They are essential to my life!
DK2 I know. The TV remote, your mouse, the smoke alarm, toys, the car, the golf buggy, your vibrator, etc. etc.
DK1 Yeah yeah yeah. So?
DK2 Do you recycle them?
DK1 Um, sometimes… Why?
DK2 Because batteries contain many toxic chemicals and heavy metals. These can include lead, antimony, calcium, cobalt, tin, selenium, nickel, cadmium… etc. Cobalt is particularly pernicious as although it’s associated with the transition to cleaner energy, it also has a history of child exploitation and human rights abuses in the Congo.
DK1 Nasty. But what has that to do with recycling?
DK2 If you blithely chuck out dead batteries with the rubbish, those poisons go to the tip or landfill. The casing of the battery corrodes and the contents, sulphuric acid and lithium and lead for example, leach out into the groundwater and into the food chain. If those tasty morsels got into your body, you might glow in the dark.
DK1 I’m an actress, I can think of nothing more FAAAABULOUS than being my own spotlight! Give me a real reason to worry.
DK2 How about fish and chips and potassium carbonate for your dinner?
DK1 Ok, not so nice. I can see I’ll have to go vegetarian.
DK2 Are you sure? The impurities in the water are absorbed by plants and fruit and then you eat the plants. In other words, mercury soup and aluminium apple sauce. Either way, they get into your body. Not great for the digestion. Or the kidney, the liver, the skin, or your asthma. Or your children. Not even fruitarians escape.
DK1 Golly. Would my water taste different too?
DK2 Many of those toxins don’t actually have a lot of taste – so they can sneak into your whiskey and water and not be noticed.
DK1 Nobody could accuse you of optimism, could they?
DK2 You may mock, but there’s more. Primary lithium batteries ignite very easily. Imagine the number of lithium batteries being crushed by heavy machinery in landfill sites. One exposed battery catches light and whoosh! You’ve got a fire that “can burn for years underground.” Here in the UK, fire and rescue services have to deal with approximately 300 significant fires in waste dumps every year, and a significant number of those are started by lithium batteries. Think of that toxic air… incredibly toxic. Nice.
DK2 Scientists reckon if “an irreversible thermal event” occurs in Lithium-ion batteries, it may release perhaps 100 different gases if they do combust. “An irreversible thermal event” – it’s a chilling phrase, isn’t it?
DK2 Blimey is right. So are you going to recycle ALL your batteries now?
DK1 Yes, all right, all right. Don’t go on.
DK2 And will you switch things off when you’re not using them to conserve battery life?
DK1 Yes, yes, yes, okaaaaay!
DK2 And what about that natty little cook’s timer that doesn’t have an off switch?
DK1 I take the battery out when I’m not using it to make it last longer.
DK2 Good girl.
DK1 Don’t patronise me, bi-atch…
DK2 Wouldn’t dream of it. By the way, did you know that serious injuries and deaths caused by swallowing batteries is on the increase in a big way?
DK1 Tsk. Who swallows a battery?
DK2 Little kids with little fingers taking little button batteries out of toys. Granny’s arthritic fingers drop the tiny hearing aid batteries…
DK2 Toddlers and crawlers love little shiny things! It’s even been reported in the Daily Mail!
DK1 Gosh, it must be true then!!! But surely Science is moving on?
DK2 Not fast enough to sort the mounting battery problem.
DK1 So what’s the solution?
DK2 Buy better batteries. Cheap batteries run down quickly – spend more on them and they last longer. Rechargeable whenever possible. And always always ALWAYS recycle.
DK2 Doh… At the supermarket in the UK! Or the toxic waste station in the USA. Doesn’t matter where you are – just type “BATTERY RECYCLING” into Google with your postcode or address, and your search engine will tell you where your nearest recycling point is.
DK1 So this piece should really be called ‘Batteries in the garbage’?
DK2 Have it your way.
WHAT YOU WILL SAVE
And finally, by public demand…
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