Dear Umbra,

I’ve been turning in my used alkaline batteries at the local drug store’s photo department, mine being Savon here in Southern California. It appears they recycle their spent film cans and cartridges, as well as cameras and batteries. At least this is what I have surmised when I have dropped off my used batteries and the attendants have not refused me. It wouldn’t hurt for others to do the same. Besides, once when asking a local recycler what they accepted, the response was, “If we get enough of anything, we’ll do our damnedest to find a user!”

Janet
Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Dearest Janet,

A shout out to all you battery recyclers who wrote in response to my battery column. I said that it was fine to throw batteries in the garbage. And I stand by my claim.

Readers get charged up
about battery recycling.

But sometimes we don’t want to be throwing things away, do we? We like to recycle. Turns out, household alkaline batteries are often recycled by towns, at least if your town happens to be Olympia, Wash., according to Alert Reader Michael. In fact, this is the case for many discarded objects, so don’t turn to me; ask your local recycling center. And if they don’t like you and your pesky battery questions, go over to the drugstore. Caroline from California reports that all Cali Walgreens will take alkaline batteries. It seems our reader Janet has had good luck with other drugstores as well.

For those of you in Europe (our original battery-curious Meg was in Italy), lucky readers in Italy and Switzerland report roadside battery collection boxes (!). Perhaps for those of us with no stateside recycling and no friendly drugstore, a trip to Europe is in order.

Lesson learned: Instead of Asking Umbra, it may just be best to ask your local drugstore. In fact, I’ve thought of a new slogan: “Make Local Focal” — as in, make local your focal point when weighing environmental issues. Or maybe “Be Focal on Local.” Or, “Be Hopeful by Focusing Local, Yokel!” It needs a little work, but keep an eye out for the lapel pin.

Okely Dokely,
Umbra