The lovely and superfantastic Mindy asks:
I’ve been knocking around the Internet over the past week or so, trying to find information about recycling car seats. I found that the two seats left from my older kids were on the cusp of expiration. I registered for a new one, but was stuck wondering if I had to pitch the old ones into a landfill. I would much rather do something less environmentally destructive with them, if possible.
If the car seat doesn’t have a recycling symbol on it, the best directions I received were to strip them of their straps and padding, then chop them up and throw them in the regular trash. (The more destroyed they are, the better, in order to prevent Dumpster divers from reusing an unsafe seat.) Really? There’s nothing better than that, considering the number of car seats which expire or are involved in crashes every year?
Does anyone at Teeny Manolo know anything to do?
An excellent question, Mindy! It practically boggles the mind to think of how many car seats are out there. They are so big and bulky, it seems like it wouldn’t take all that many of them to pile up to the top of a landfill in no time flat. There has to be something that can be done with them, right?
Well, sort of.
Because all child car seats have an expiration date, like those eggs you just bought, the options are fairly limited. It irritates me to think that something that looks perfectly functional is not, but we have to take the word of the manufacturers that over time, the plastics and materials in the car seats degrade. We have Space Shuttles making multiple trips into outer space and back, but can’t seem to make a car seat that works past six years. OK, a little side rant there. Back to the question at hand.
How can we dispose of our expired car seat and still give ourselves the environmental warm fuzzies?
To find out the answer…
I made many phone calls and irritated quite a few sales representatives as well as someone from the federal government to get this information. The woman from the federal government was the one who knew nothing and had no advice. Big shocker there.
As far as I can tell, you have three options:
1. The least desirable is the one described above. This is to strip the seat of all possible recyclable materials and destroy the rest so that the seat can never be used again. It was recommended that you contact your waste management facility first to make sure that they accept those materials. Because of the vast differences in local waste management across the country, there is no sure way to know what will be accepted in your area until you ask.
2. Contact one of your local car seat training facilities and ask if they would be willing to accept a donation for instructional purposes. This link will take you to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration site and enable you to locate a facility in your area.
3. Goodwill. I contacted the regional offices in my own area and was informed that Goodwill will accept any car seat, regardless of expiration date. With this method, there is no sure way to know what will happen to the car seat, as the woman I spoke with had no knowledge of what they actually did with them after they received them. The hope is that something responsible would be done with them, or at the very least that the seat was properly destroyed. Goodwill is a very reputable organization, so I can’t imagine they would simply throw them out as is.
With the strict federal guidelines regarding the expiration dates, there is not much else to be done, it seems. I am sorry, Mindy, that I was unable to find more eco-friendly options. I tried though, goodness knows I tried. Perhaps some of our fabulous readers know of another method.
Either that, or they need to start making car seats out of the same stuff as the Space Shuttle.
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