Car Seat Recycling
Car seats take up a lot of space! Parents are concerned that once their car seat has reached its end-of-life there is no place to recycle them. Since there are approximately 10 million car seats purchased each year, you can imagine how many seats wind up in our landfills and incinerators. Please consult our new car seat recycling website, www.recycleyourcarseat.org, for information on car seat recycling programs throughout North America.
- September 28, 2014: CoolMom, Zero Waste Washington, WestSide Baby, and Total Reclaim collect 161 car seats at car seat recycling drive.
- October 10, 2010: CoolMom Recycling event recycles 300 car seats! Full story here.
CoolMom’s Guide to What to Do with a Used Car Seat in Seattle
Economically-savvy and sustainably-minded parents often shop for used children’s goods and pass on the items that they are finished with. Car seats present a challenge, however, because no one wants to compromise their child’s safety.
According to both car seat manufacturers and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car seats do expire. Some people do not trust this information because they believe that the manufacturers are just trying to sell more car seats! However, child passenger safety technicians tell us that the plastic used to make car seats does in fact degrade over time, and that while your seat might not expire exactly on the expiration date, it is wise to purchase a new (or new-to-you) car seat once yours expires. You can see what happens when the plastic has degraded in this short video of a crash test done on a 10 year old Britax car seat here.
Car seat expiration dates vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. The expiration date is often printed on a sticker somewhere on the base of your car seat or stamped directly into the plastic at the base. Sometimes all you can find is the manufactured date. If this is the case, add 6 years to it and consider that the expiration date. Only a few car seats, like the Diono Radian and most new Dorel brand seats, have longer life spans.
Additionally, if your car seat has been in any kind of accident, including a fender bender, you should replace the car seat. Also, if you have ever removed and laundered the straps of your car seat or treated the straps with bleach, the seat should be replaced. Never give away a seat that has been in an accident or in which the straps have been compromised, even if it is not expired.
Have car seat questions? Consider having your seats inspected by a professional. Seattle Children’s Hospital runs regular events, and there are also several area Child Passenger Safety Technicians that you can hire.
For more information, we suggest the following resources:
Our new car seat website: www.recycleyourcarseat.org
This car seat safety article from a child passenger safety technician.
This short video demonstrating how to tell if your car seat is safe.
If your car seat has never been in a car accident, is less than 6 years old, has not had its straps washed or bleached and has not been recalled, you can reuse it by:
- Saving it for your next child
- Giving/loaning it to a friend
- Donating it
Seattle area charities that accept car seat donations (please contact us at KimberlyC@coolmom.org if you know another charity that accepts them):
FamilyWorks in Wallingford
Accepts any type of car seat that has not been recalled, has not been in a car accident, has not had its straps laundered or bleached, and is 5 years or younger. FamilyWorks particularly needs seats for children from 20-40 pounds. Please call Jake or Shirley at 694-6727 before donating to confirm that they have space for it.
Westside Baby in West Seattle
Westside Baby has a program in which they work with social service agencies throughout the city to match families in need with good car seats. You can donate at their site or at one of their community partners, including Childish Things in North Seattle.
Baby Corner on Capitol Hill
Some consignment stores are able to accept car seats for resale as long as they have never been in a car accident, are less than 6 years old, have not had its straps washed nor bleached and have not been recalled. Please call first as many consignment stores do not accept them.
Important update on car seat recycling, December 2014. Westside Baby has discontinued their car seat recycling program, which means that you can no longer drop the seats of at Childish Things consignment store (they were sending them to Westside Baby). Currently, there are no recycling options in Seattle. CoolMom, in partnership with Zero Waste Washington, is working very hard to create a pathway for car seat recycling in the Seattle area. We suggest holding onto your car seat if you are able to, as we expect to have a car seat recycling drive in the Spring of 2015. We hope to have an ongoing solution to this problem within the next year.
You can follow our progress at www.recycleyourcarseat.org, which also lists car seat recycling programs throughout North America.
We have heard many creative uses for expired car seats, and encourage you to submit yours to CoolMom at KimberlyC@coolmom.org. Here are some of our favorites:
Space shuttle captain’s chair, strapped in and ready for lift off!