Cordless Electric Appliances: Good or Bad for the Environment?

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Wake up, make coffee in a coffee maker, take food out of the fridge, put fresh bread into the toaster, vacuum the floor, mow the lawn…

Mankind has built its modern life around appliances, but have we ever stopped to ask ourselves how do they impact the environment?

Let’s face it, most people have made household appliances an integral part of their life, and they simply cannot function without them. Yes, they do offer countless benefits, but in a time where the whole ecosystem is so fragile, it’s time to try and use these appliances more effectively and find a way to reduce our overall carbon footprint.

The same technological advancements that have allowed household appliances to become so important in our life are responsible for the newest trend in the electric industry – lithium-ion batteries.

You’ve probably come across that name when going through the specs of your smartphone, but they have a wider range than you might think. Cars, gardening tools, kitchen appliances, and even construction site tools are powered by it! Pretty awesome, right?

Assembling furniture, Hands of a carpenter with a electric Cordless screwdriver, tighten the screw in drawers of chipboard.

Lithium-ion batteries have opened up a whole new world for electric appliances and tools, and it’s exciting to see what the future holds for them. As we advance into a new age where our lifestyles are based on preserving the environment, all of the appliances need to follow – and vice versa.

Manufacturers must step up and improve their products to be efficient and eco-friendly to help guide us towards a better and cleaner future. This whole shift is already taking place, as Dyson have announced that their new cordless vacuums have become so efficient that they will end the production of corded vacuums. This might sound crazy now, but it’s for the best – just think 20 years ago when appliances were much less efficient and eco-friendly.

Have a quick look online and you might notice that things are changing in terms of what people are talking about. You can find lots of vacuum cleaner reviews which are solely talking about cordless machines and not corded ones. Such a big change in a short period of time.

Let’s take a closer look and examine if and how these new cordless products are good for the environment.

Cordless Products Use Less Power

Smart phone and tablet pc on wooden table background

Cordless technology is often accompanied by intelligent systems that ensure that the product only uses as much power as it is needed to complete the task. For tougher tasks, the tool or appliance will draw more power from the battery, and for smaller jobs, it will keep it to a minimum.

This ensures two things:

  • You save precious energy and thus reduce your electrical bill.
  • You reduce your overall carbon footprint by using less energy. By using a product that draws unnecessary current, you basically waste energy.

Cordless Products Don’t Pollute Directly

This is especially true for the range of garden cordless products. We all know that gas garden tools are used all throughout the world, even in this day and age.

They require a tank full of gas in order to work, and all that is emitted into the air as you use the product, which is the worst thing that could happen – you directly breathe the dangerous chemicals and pollute the air around you.

Asian man wearing mouth mask against air pollution

But the problem is much worse when you take a look at the big picture. In fact, statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the United States show that Americans on average burn more than 3 billion (yes, billion) litres of gas per year while tending to their garden. This accounts for 5% of the United States’ air pollution, a devastating number when you consider that it’s only from gardening.

Still, the dangers of gas gardening products don’t stop there.

They need a mixture of gas and oil for the best performance. While pouring this mixture into your chainsaw or lawn mower, spills are inevitable. The EPA estimates that refuelling garden tools annually accounts for more than 64 million litres of fuel spills.

If this number doesn’t seem high to you, let’s put things into perspective. The biggest oil spill in history, the Exxon Valdez oil spill “only” spilt 40 million litres. While that oil spill is considered to be one of the worst human-caused environmental disasters, the oil spills that occur when refuelling garden tools are often ignored.

Cordless products offer a way around all of that, as they only use the power needed to charge the battery, which has significantly less negative effects for the environment. Not to mention the fact that they are much quieter, allowing for peaceful cohabitation in your neighbourhood.

Newer products can even be charged with solar panels, further decreasing your carbon footprint.

While they do offer all these amazing benefits, cordless electric appliances have a drawback too, and it’s the same thing that makes them what they are – the lithium-ion battery.

Recycling Lithium-Ion Batteries

Bucket of Lithium-ion AA Batteries in front of a Solar Energy Plant background

Lithium-ion batteries have made all of these advancements in technology possible. They offer a large amount of power packed in a small lightweight battery.

Although very convenient, they have a limited lifetime meaning that they need to be replaced every few years. This has resulted in huge landfills of batteries that leak dangerous chemicals. With so many products becoming cordless lately, this problem needs to be stopped before it gets worse.

Fortunately, there’s a huge potential for the reuse and the recycling of these batteries. The UK government launched the Faraday Battery Challenge in 2017, hoping to develop new technologies that will raise the recyclability of lithium-ion batteries.

There are also continuous efforts from manufacturers and governments from all around a world to reduce the negative impact of lithium-ion batteries and find an ecologically sustainable way of recycling them.

In summary

Cordless tools and appliances are a much better option than their corded or gas counterparts and represent the shift we make as humanity towards a cleaner planet. In addition, with increasing technological advancements and the growing efforts to improve the re-usability of lithium-ion batteries, cordless appliances can only become an even better eco-friendly solution.

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