Spare me from eco-zealotry…

In yesterday’s Observer magazine, their eco-hack suggested that USB-rechargeable AA batteries are a green alternative to normal ones. Sorry, but they certainly are not.

The greenest way to use AAs is to buy the highest capacity you can find – that way you need fewer batteries. Fewer batteries = smaller carbon footprint – a child could figure that out (but not Observer hacks, seemingly).

My current NiMH AA batteries are rated at 2800mAh, and I have a dozen in more or less constant use. The USB version is a rather pathetic 1300mAh, little better than a decent AAA, so I’d need more than twice as many for the same usage – how is that, in anyway at all, green? And who the hell has that many spare USB ports? (NB – these are OK if you’re are in the middle of a field somewhere, and need to recharge a couple from your laptop, but for everyday use they’re just a gimmick.)

By the way, the capacity is low because the actual battery is, physically, little bigger than a AAA once the USB connector is discounted. Obvious to anyone, but not to the Observer’s eco-zealot.

I don’t know what’s wrong with these people, but they seem only rarely to think of doing something as elementary as visiting the manufacturer’s website and checking a few facts (we’ve visited this territory before with the Obs eco-dimwits). Mind you, go to and you’ll have to dig pretty damned deep to find out the capacity of these things but, surely, digging for facts is what journalists are supposed to do? Or is fact-checking not, perhaps, green? I mean, really, is there a carbon debt involved in just thinking?