Button battery campaign helps environment, town
Westborough – Those pesky tiny batteries that power watches, cameras, hearing aids, toys and even flickering candles are more than an annoyance if they roll under the fridge. They are a public health risk.
The flat disks, called button batteries, each contain nine milligrams of mercury, a well-documented toxin. When dumped in landfills, those decomposing batteries can release mercury and threaten public health. That’s why they should be recycled.
The Woman’s Club of Westborough has been making it easier for area residents to find a convenient place to turn button batteries in for recycling.
The club has set up collection boxes in the Westborough Public Library, the town Department of Public Health and the Senior Center, among other locations. Not only that, but the club uses the $500 that the recycling of those batteries earns to aid the community.
For example, last year, the club made a $1,200 donation to Westborough schools to be used to buy replacement electromagnetic pads and batteries for the automated external defibrillators, Judy Wilchynski, club president explained. The battery recycling program raised $500 of that donation, she said.
“A few years ago, we gave $1,000 to the Senior Center,” Wilchynski said. “We gave money to the library to buy lamps.”
“We’re helping the environment, but it’s a win-win for our club because we turn the money around to help the community,” Wilchynski said. “We use it for our community improvement projects.”
With the help of Public Health Director Paul McNulty, the club found a program in which the club earns $100 for every pound of batteries, up to $500 a year. With the collection boxes and members collecting used button batteries from friends and families, the club has always reached the maximum level, Wilchynski said.
“Paul was the one who made us aware of the program and helped us get this on board,” Wilchynski said. “We bring the money back to the community.”
Once collected, the batteries go to the Department of Health, where representatives of Wheelabrator Technologies, the recycler, collect them. By late winter or early spring, the club has its money to add to other fund-raising eff orts, such as the annual rabies clinic.
“We’re now pursuing projects we can help pay for or put money toward,” Wilchynski said. “The committee gets ideas from making calls and from other organizations in town.”
Part of last year’s battery proceeds have already been committed: the club sponsored a swimmer, music teacher Matt Lefebvre, in the In Your Shoes polar swim, and will spend $400 to sponsor a community dinner at the Senior Center, Wilchynski said.
Anyone with ideas for community improvement projects can call Wilchynski at 508- 870-1895.
The Westborough Woman’s Club is open to women ages 18 and above. In addition to Westborough, members come from Shrewsbury, Whitinsville, Grafton and West Boylston.
The club meets monthly on Tuesday afternoons at the Evangelical Congregational Church on West Main Street. Upcoming meetings include Feb. 9, featuring a program on emergency preparedness, presented by Lisa Jackson of Hopkinton. The March 9 program will feature an opportunity to have antiques appraised for a small fee, with the revenue to help with club fund-raising.
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