As I have been spring cleaning, I noticed that I still have my son’s foam booster seat. I figured I would just give it to someone. People pass down their car seats all the time. Right? For some reason I landed on a site about Morristown and Morris Township’s car seat recycling effort and got a wake up call.
Plastic car seats have a life span since the plastic degrades. Generally speaking, the car seat expires six years from the date on the tag. However, Bill Flinchbaugh of Colorado Children’s Automobile Safety Foundation explained each car seat manufacturer sets its own life expectancy for its seats. Some car seats may be four years while others might be ten years. Before you hand it down, call the manufacturer to find out the life span for the seat.
What should I do if someone offers me a car seat?
Before you take that seat make sure it is appropriate for your child. Check the Motor Highway Transportation Safety Association’s car seat section. According to the website,
“Every year, thousands of young children are killed or injured in crashes, mainly because 3 out of every 4 children in child safety seats are not properly secured, or even worse, not restrained at all.”
In addition, check out your state and federal laws on SafeKids.org website.
Buying car seats from a second hand store can be tricky because you don’t know if that seat has been compromised in any way or that it has expired.
“SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. recommends against buying used car seats at garage sales or thrift shops. Often these seats are missing parts, damaged, or on recall. There is no way to check them thoroughly without the complete manufacturer’s instruction booklet. They may even have invisible damage from a crash.”
My car seat expired. What do I do?
The best advice is to recycle your booster or car seat. In Colorado, the CCSCA accepts local car seats for recycling but discourages mailing car seats to them. So I asked Flinchbaugh how can car seat recycling become more prevalent? He stated that if people want to recycle more, then they need to support products made with recycled products. He further stated that they also should demand that big retailers such as Walmart and Target to carry more recycled content product. In essence, make change happen with your wallet.
As I mentioned earlier, Morristown and Morris Township, New Jersey have drop off points for the car seats to be recycled. Jen Carcich, one of the organizers of last years event told me that the town is now recycling them as part of their recycling service. Other recycling program are listed here. There are very few.
So, what can you do? Check with your local government recycling program to see if they would accept the car seat if you dissassemble it. According to an article in Grist,
“If you cannot find a way to recycle a defunct car seat, don’t feel bad about throwing it out. Make sure that no one else will find and use your unsafe seat, though. Disassemble it in such a way as to make it unusable — cut the straps, separate the cover and straps from the plastic base, write “broken” on the frame in big permanent marker — and put it out for trash collection.”
What did I do with my son’s foam chair? The manufacturer of my booster seat is out of business. Since my seat is made of foam, I decided to give it away.
What have you done with your old car seats and boosters?
Does your town have a car seat recycling program?
See Part II: Want Car Seating Recycling in your Town? Morristown Mom and Tots provide their letter to Green Talk to empower you to start the ball running in your own town.