To Recycle Car Seats or Not to Recycle?

Sustainability is a buzz word. There are often three bins to choose from at your local recycling place when you’re ready to make your free throw — but until one of them says “car seat,” how do you know where it goes? Most importantly, how do you know when it goes? Lucky for us, Target usually does a car seat trade-in program twice a year.  It’s a car seat recycling program held twice a year where they offer you a coupon for baby gear when you bring them your used seat. Target will recycle all types of car seats, including infant car seats, convertible car seats, harnessed, and booster seats. Yes, even a booster seat! You can even turn in car seat bases or that terrifying old seat you used in the 90s that your mom has kept in the attic for some unknown reason. And it doesn’t matter if these items are expired, damaged, or stained – they’re getting recycled anyway!

But, before you start making your shopping list, remember: You can give another mama 100% off by passing on your seat to another child. Here’s how to know if your car seat deserves a new life: 

It isn’t expired

This is the easiest one to check. Your car seat won’t go sour in the fridge, but safety standards will change as technology improves. (Would you want an iPhone 5 right now? Same idea.) Plus, if it’s an infant seat, the base and the seat may have different expiration dates. Check the manufacturer label on yours to make sure your car seat donations are safe. 

The Department of Transportation makes sure all car seats manufacture in the U.S. meet safety standards. These rules dictate how critical safety information is conveyed to buyers through labels and instruction manuals, and how each seat performs in crash tests. They do not regulate what happens after you purchase!

There are no existing recalls

A car seat that isn’t safe for your child isn’t safe for any child. And since most companies don’t want to shout their mistakes from the rooftops, the National Highway Safety Administration maintains a comprehensive database to catalog every car seat and vehicle safety issue. 

It has all its original parts

You know when you have to return something you’ve already opened and upturn your entire house searching for every part to shove back in the box? Same kind of searching for this (i.e. inserts, harness pads, metal pieces, manual, etc.). 

It has not been in an accident

Many car seats need to be replaced if they were involved in an accident, even if the child was not in the seat when it happened. If the force of a crash is enough to bend the steel in your vehicle’s frame, it’s enough to impair the plastic in your little’s car seat (even if you can’t see it). 

What happens in a car crash anyway?

What Happens in a Car Crash?

The smell has not been compromised

Let’s be real. Things come out of our babes that smell … questionable. And those things come out wherever we are — in the car, at the store, during family photos — you name it. If you’ve properly cleaned your seat (with only what the manufacturer allows) and made good-as-new magic happen, you’re in the clear. Not good as new? Don’t worry, sometimes there’s just no saving it. (Note: For any other nose-tickling smells, always disclose whether the seat was in a smoke-free, pet-free home.)

It has never traveled under a plane (or anywhere other than a car/stroller)

This is a big one. When you check your car seat with luggage, though it’s one less thing for you to carry, baggage handlers will not be as gentle with it as you are. It may be tossed, put under or between other heavy items, and come out with damage you may not even notice. 

Head over to our YouTube Channel for more tips for airplane travel with car seats.

5 Tips for Flying with Car Seats!

The integrity is excellent

You may be noticing a common theme: Do not pass your car seat along to another child if it is damaged. This includes no broken parts, no frayed straps, all angle indicators working, etc. If you aren’t sure, it’s always better to be safe than sorry — recycle it during recycling programs, such as the Target event while you have the option to do so. Wear and tear is acceptable at the Target Trade in Event!

What is the longest lasting car seat?

So, which convertible car seat will last my family the longest? Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer here. The seat that fits your life, your family, and your vehicle will ultimately last you the longest. We’re trying to avoid buying the wrong seat, and then having to repurchase a new one. Our Car Seat Buying Kits are designed to ask you questions that are specific to you. So what works for one person may not work for another. You may even have different seats for your kiddo for each vehicle.  “I wish someone would just tell me what to buy.”  Sound familiar?  Schedule a 1:1 virtual consultation with one of our Nationally Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians.

How to Choose the Best Car Seat!

To Recycle Car Seats or Not to Recycle?

While it may seem a no-brainer to pass on your seat to another family, make sure you’re doing diligence before you share! Follow along on Instagram and Facebook for more tips and tricks! We also offer gift cards for our safety courses. Spread the good word – think before you recycle your car seat!

All of our courses & buying kits are on sale!

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