Car Seat Recycling
Car Seats take up a lot of space! Moms are concerned that once their car seat has reached its end of life there is no place to recycle them. Since there are approximately 12 million car seats purchased each year, you can imagine how many seats wind up in our landfills. There are some cities in which you can recycle car seats, here is a short list. If you have car seat recycling in your neck of the woods, please contact CoolMom at email@example.com.
- September 28, 2014: CoolMom, Zero Waste Washington, WestSide Baby, and Total Reclaim partner on a pilot project to collect 161 car seats.
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, car seat 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. Your car seat manual should tell you when your seat expires. This date is also often printed on a sticker somewhere on the base of your car seat or embossed 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 Sunshine Radian, 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. Children’s Hospital runs regular events, and there are also several area Car Seat Safety Technicians that you can hire.
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 KimberlyChristensen@live.com 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 for current needs and to make an appointment if needed.
Kym’s Kiddy Korner
Kids on 45th
Me ‘n Moms
Important Update on car seat recycling, December 2011. Goods for the Planet in Seattle will be closing their doors this year (2011) and will no longer be able to recycle your car seats. However, Childish Things in North Greenwood, 10002 Holman Road NW, 98177 will be accepting your expired and reusable car seats for only $5. This program is a pilot project in partnership with WestSide Baby. Please give your car seat a wipe down before bringing it in- they can get pretty gnarly! You will need to remove the straps and the cover of your seat, so please read the FAQS below.
Please DO NOT leave your car seats outside their building. Check their website for their hours of operation.
Car Seat Recycling FAQS
Is there a fee to recycle? Yes, it costs $5 to recycle a car seat at Childish Things.
Free car seat recycling drives are occasionally available; please contact CoolMom at KimberlyChristensen@live.com for more information.
Can I bring the seat in as is? No. We ask that you please remove the cover and the straps as best you can before you bring in the car seat. You may cut the straps to remove them. The fabric parts cannot be recycled, so you may wash them and use them as spares or throw them in your garbage can.
What happens to the car seats? They will be processed by a recycler in Vancouver, WA, who will separate the different materials for reuse. Most of the parts can be chipped, bagged and resold as raw materials for future products.
We have heard many creative uses for expired car seats, and encourage you to submit yours to CoolMom at KimberlyChristensen@live.com Here are some of our favorites:
Space shuttle captain’s chair, strapped in and ready for lift off!