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Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Problem of Expired Child Carseats


When I put together my Green Baby Registry Checklist, I wondered: Is it possible for my baby to have a plastic-free childhood? I quickly came to the sad conclusion that it is not. One of the most essential baby products is made almost entirely of a LOT of plastic: the child carseat.  If every one of the over 4 million babies born in the US each year got a new carseat that would be at least 100 million pounds of plastic that will eventually make its way to the landfill annually.  Do you know what to do with your child's outgrown carseat? Until recently I didn't.  Here's what I found...

Donate: It is commonly believed that child carseats expire after six years. While this may be true for some models, they do vary. Evenflo carseats have an eight year life. Consider this aspect when purchasing to find a seat with the longest possible lifespan.  Check the expiration date on the bottom of your car seat.  Even if your child is done with the seat, many local organizations collect and distribute donations of used carseats that have not expired and have never been in a crash. Call your local woman's shelter or pregnancy counseling organization and ask if they could use your carseat.

Recycle:  For carseats that are broken, expired, or have been in a crash, recycling is the next best option. Graco's FAQ site states that it does not have a recycling program for child carseats.  They recommend recycling locally or removing straps before discarding in a landfill. Thanks for nothin' Graco! Likewise with Evenflo. The keyword 'recycle' cannot even be found on the Britax website.  When I started this search, I had a quaint idea that carseat manufacurers would have some recycling program in place. The one I imagined wasn't great. You might have to ship the heavy plastic all the way to their plant, and you would probably have to pay them $25 to recycle it. Even such a mediocre option does not exist!

Luckily we live in a very environmentally conscious area, so there was one local store which collects and recycles carseats for $8. DH raised his eyebrows at that.  Would I let my frugal side or my desire to help the environment win over this time? The two sides were at odds with each other again.  In this case, I just couldn't let this 25+ pound hunk of plastic go to the landfill.  I've never paid to recycle something before, but I figured since the carseat was a free hand-me-down in the first place, so it was justifiable. As I drove away from the shop $8 poorer, I felt pretty good about my decision. 


What solutions have you found for your unused child carseats? 


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8 comments:

  1. I didn't know you could recycle carseats. My now five year old daughter's seat is in the garage collecting dust. I tried to sell it, but to no avail. Thanks for the info!

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  2. Companies need to come up with ways to recycle and offer recycling programs. They need to start taking responsibility for their products!!! :)

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  3. Stephanie - If I hadn't found out about the recycling program, ours would have been in storage too. I don't think I could bring myself to put it in the garbage!

    Good Girl - I completely agree! Companies shouldn't be able to profit and then leave future generations to suffer the environmental damage and loss of natural resources. If they really wanted to, I'm sure they could design something that lasted longer than 6 years, but it's to their advantage to make everyone keep buying new ones.

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  4. We had a couple of full backed booster seats for older children (up to age 12) when we were expecting foster kids to join us. Unfortunately they expired before our little one will be big enough to make use of them. They were from Germany however and had a recycling code on the bottom so we just removed the padding and put them on top of the bin for pick up. Why can't US companies do that? Germany has very high safety standards for car seats, so its not as if the types of plastic that are recyclable aren't strong enough.

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  5. folkhaven - It's great you were able to recycle your carseats! I've read a little bit about this. The laws in Europe seem much more strict than here in the US. I'm planning to do some more research. This will definitely be a blog post for another day.

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  6. I ended up with two hand-me down car seats, both of which expired. I couldn't find any recycling options, so one went in the dumpster (I made my husband do the dirty work, I couldn't bring myself to do it) but I just can't add the second one to the landfill. If you can find any more information on how to recycling car seats I would be thrilled! I'm thinking maybe I need to write the manufacturers a letter... a first step to pushing them toward designing a recycling program.

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  7. I use them as the seats on the go karts we make.

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  8. I use them as seats on the go karts we make.

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