It’s hard to figure out what to do with old car seats. These seats may exit our lives for a handful of different reasons — whether our kids happen to outgrow them, or — heaven forbid — they’ve been in an accident and are no longer of use. If you’re in a household with multiple children, your garage might be stuffed with old car seats with no place to go. They’re also tough to get rid of since they’re often quite expensive. Sometimes, even if you no longer have a use for something, it can be hard to let go, but this is not quite the same as just deciding to declutter your home and organize your garage. There are a few good answers when trying to figure out what to do with old car seats. But, it’s important to find the solution that works best for you.
Here are some starting points to gett you on the right track.
How to Recycle Old Car Seats
While trying to figure out what to do with old car seats, you might not think of the number one solution — recycling. By recycling old car seats, you’re further doing your part in helping the environment. The plastic used in making these seats often lasts anywhere between six and 10 years before starting to get unpredictable. So, it’s good to know that recycling this plastic can give it a second life.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when throwing away old car seats. If you’re not donating it, here’s how to recycle it properly.
- When recycling these devices, strip the car seat of its fabric and padding and throw it away. The plastic frame left behind can be recycled.
- Cut the harness straps out of the seat. These go into the trash.
- Take out any metal parts in the car seat using a screwdriver. Metal is recyclable.
Each state runs recycling programs differently. You’ll want to contact the Department of Transportation in your state to see if there’s a proper car seat recycling program. By recycling, you’re ensuring that your old car seat doesn’t take up unnecessary space at the dump. Even worse, some people in need might try to visit a dump if they need a car seat. While it’s nice to know that it’s being reused, it can be dangerous if the seat has unknowingly expired. When car seats are concerned, safety will always be a top priority. Remember, it’s likely those seats ended up there because they’re no longer up to code.
Give the Seat to a Friend or Family Member
When you’re trying to figure out what to do with old car seats, donating them to a friend who’s expecting might make the most sense. It’s completely acceptable to pass on a car seat to someone in need. However, you’ll want to be open and honest about it. Car seats that have been in accidents should never be given to someone else. Very old seats should also be recycled instead of donated.
It’s also good to make sure your car seat hasn’t been recalled. This is something that you, as a parent, should be fully aware of even when actively using the car seat. Car seat recalls are rare, but they do happen.
What You Need to Disclose When Donating Your Seat to Someone Else
It’s also possible that you might want to offer your seat up to a parent in a Facebook group who might have had a tough year. It’s a noble effort. After all, it really does take a village to raise a child, so any help is appreciated.
You’ll want to hand over the manual to the seat if you happen to have it. It’s also important to disclose the history of the seat. Washing the interiors is also a good move to help prevent the passing of any germs. (Plus, it’s just the polite thing to do.)
Target & Walmart Might Help With Old Car Seats
Luckily, big companies like Target and Walmart often have car seat trade-in events. Target often announces these events on their website when they’re expected to occur.
They state that they accept the following during these drives:
- infant seats
- seat bases
- damaged seats
- expired seats
- convertible seats
- harness or booster seats
Target has partnered with the company Waste Management to make sure these are properly recycled, taking some of the work out of it. Oftentimes, they’ll also give you a discount for your trade-in, making it a great deal for parents looking to replace their seats with something new.
Walmart also has similar events, teaming up with the company TerraCycle. Their first event happened in 2019, but they’ve continued to sponsor it. According to TerraCycle, they’ll take any car seats but not booster seats. Those who wish to partake often get a gift card in return — typically, it’s for $30 but that’s subject to change, especially based on location. The best thing to do is to call Walmart and see if your local branch is offering the program.
Donate to the Vietnam Veterans of America
The Vietnam Veterans of America is an incredible organization that will happily pick up most items, with car seats often being on the list. You’ll have to check in beforehand before dropping anything off, just to make sure they’re still accepted.
“Our purpose in the household donations program is to raise funds for our mission of supporting veterans,” states their website. “Therefore, cost-benefit decisions need to be made.” The program helps assist all veterans along with their families and has been going strong since 1979.