On Sri Nihal Tammana’s tenth birthday, his parents encouraged him to start watching the news with them as he was growing into a young adult. When he sat down to watch with his dad that day, they witnessed a story on how 15 billion used batteries are thrown away improperly every year, causing fires and harming animals across the world.
“Earth is doing something nice for us,” Sri Nihal said. “It’s given us food, water, and shelter, so we need to do something nice back to Mother Earth. Instead, we’re doing the complete opposite.”
Deeply upset from hearing that so many people were unaware of how their trash was harming the earth, Sri Nihal decided that day to make a change.
That year, he started Recycle My Battery, a nonprofit organization that campaigns to raise awareness on properly recycling batteries. Because batteries may contain toxins such as mercury and zinc, if they are not recycled properly, they can overheat and cause fires, or their chemicals can leak into the ground, poisoning both animals and people. In addition to its education component, Recycle My Battery also provides free battery bins to offices, schools, libraries, and other locations around the country in order to help people properly recycle theirs.
Now 12-years-old, Sri Nihal has led Recycle My Battery and its over 75 youth volunteers in recycling over 75,000 used batteries and educating over one million kids and adults across the nation.
Recycle My Battery’s slogan, created by Sri Nihal, is “If I can make earth a better place to live, you can. If you can make earth a better place to live, we all can!”
Recycle My Battery aims to target kids in particular so the next generation is engrained with the knowledge on how to properly recycle batteries, and also in the hopes that kids will then share this information with their parents.
“If kids tell their parents, then their parents will tell more and more people,” Sri Nihal said. “That way, this will give us a big chance to educate a lot of people. We can build many steps toward our dream by educating only kids.”
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sri Nihal educated kids by presenting to schools. The pandemic has caused Recycle My Battery to switch gears and focus on education through videos, blogs, and social media. He even recently presented a TEDx Talk that will be posted online next month.
Recycle My Battery encourages anyone seeking to properly dispose of a used battery to drop them off at their local Staples, Office Depot or Best Buy. Sri Nihal also accepts battery deliveries that he disposes of himself. The nonprofit is partnered with Call2Recycle, which sends Recycle My Battery battery bins for free so the organization can ship them to different locations around the United States, which are then shipped back to Call2Recycle for proper disposal.
Some of the battery bins Sri Nihal implemented are at his former elementary school, Woodbrook Elementary in Edison, New Jersey. Woodbrook’s principal, Nicole Cirillo, recalled when Sri Nihal first contacted her while he was in fifth grade, asking to not only set out the bins but to also deliver a presentation on recycling batteries to his peers.
“I think he really cares about doing the right thing for our school and for the environment,” Nicole said. “I don’t think, for him, it’s ever been a self-centered venture. It’s always been about what can I do for the earth? What can I do for my community?”
Sri Nihal is incredibly dedicated to his organization, logging 1,200 hours on his initiative in 2020, and over 300 so far in 2021. He said he is driven to work so hard in the pursuit of bringing the 15 million used batteries thrown away each year to zero. While he knows this will take at least a decade to achieve, he is committed to furthering along the process.
“We can bring something to Mother Earth,” Sri Nihal said. “I’m actually excited and happy I’m helping Mother Earth in one way. This is very rewarding to me.”
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Sri Nihal? Find local volunteer opportunities.