1) Choose rechargeable batteries. Rechargeable batteries have improved a lot, retain their charge much longer, and, according to Tree Hugger, are much less damaging than disposable batteries to the environment over the entire life of the battery. They are also a good price. It is essential that one gets the right batteries (most recommended: hybrid Nickel-Metal Hydride (Ni-MH) cells) and a good charger.
According to Metaefficient, here are the best rechargeable batteries:
- LaCrosse Technology BC-900 Alpha Battery Charger
- Ansmann Deluxe “Energy 8″ Charger
- Maha PowerEx “Ultimate Professional” Charger
2) DC Government does collect batteries. One day each month (used to be weekly), you can bring your batteries and other items to Fort Totten transfer station for household hazardous waste/e-cycling/document shredding services. As I understand it, the city isn't actually recycling them, but rather they are keeping the batteries out of the landfills and the Fairfax incinerator. So, it is still better to use rechargeable batteries.
3) Car batteries can be recycled at most retailers of car batteries. AutoZone on H St NE should recycle car batteries and motor oil for free.
4) Other places collect batteries: the House office buildings, Best Buy. Or you can send them by mail (fee involved): Battery Solutions, Battery Mart, Big Green Box.