Tuesday, December 11, 2012

When rechargeable becomes disposable.

I don't really have that many things that have rechargeable batteries. That is to say that I use rechargeables, but most of the electronics that I have that need batteries have replaceable batts, meaning I can take them out and replace/recharge them as I need. So I was taken aback at a note my good friend John sent me about his super duper sonic high tech toothbrush the other day.

John, like myself is one of those guys who is constantly trying to fight the good fight on waste. We commiserate about turning the lights off only to have our loved ones come in and turn them back on, changing the thermostat slowly enough so no one knows, and on and on. So when he called the other day I knew something was amiss.

John uses an electronic toothbrush that I don't really know anything about (I'm still a stick, dirt and leaves man myself) and apparently the rechargeable batteries inside had stopped fighting the good fight.   Faced with replacement due to a lack of power, he decided, like any good hacker would, to open it up and see if he could change out the batts himself.  Seems simple enough right?

Well, as you can see from the pics, all did not go well.  After a bit of scoring, cutting, cracking and slowly moving tiny cables from side to side, he was actually able to get to the two AA nicad batteries inside.

Nirvana was in sight.

Until he realized to his dismay, that the batteries were solidly held in place with glue from a hot glue gun.  Foiled.  While many would have stopped there, he soldiered on and tried to pull the batts out anyway.  The call i got came shortly after he had accidentally cut into the batteries themselves and realized that he might end up doing more harm than good.  Sonic Toothbrush - 1.  John and the rest of us - 0.

What got him, and get's me about all of this, is that we, the buying public, are sold this bit of rhetoric that we are somehow doing the world a solid by buying an item that has a rechargeable battery.  Surely it's better than one where we throw out the batteries over and over right?  But if it means that when the batts are dead we have to buy a brand new thingamabob (how convenient huh?) then are we really doing that much better?  After all, 99 times out of 100 that gizmo is going to end up in a landfill and nothing will get recycled!

Now it's obvious that the company who makes this doohicky doesn't want you opening it up, but the fact that they put it together in a way that should you break the outer shell you still can't get it apart, cheeses me even more.  I'm guessing it all comes down to cost, but it seems as if they don't want you fixing anything yourself even if you know how.

Moral of the story, stick with your toothbrush and leave the rechargeables to someone else.  Are rechargeables better than "disposables"?  Of course, but as this goes to show, not all rechargeables are created equal.  Thanks for sharing John and keep fighting the good fight.  I'm gonna turn the fridge up one setting as a way to honor your quest for wasting less and a stick and dirt are in the mail as we speak to help keep those choppers strong.


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