FACT: Americans are estimated to buy as many as 12 million car seats a year.
PROBLEM: Kids outgrow car seats, and the seats have expiration dates (usually five to six years after manufactured), as the materials eventually degrade from ultraviolet light exposure. So, parents generally buy multiple car seats for their children during the period when they are required by law to use one. These seats are made of plastic, metal, foam and fabric that could be recycled if the seats are deconstructed. Yet most car seats end up in a landfill, and there are only a handful of programs nationwide that accept car seats for recycling.
SOLUTION: Unfortunately, there aren’t any local establishments that accept used car seats, but that doesn’t mean you can’t recycle them. BabyEarth, an online baby products retailer, runs the BabyEarth RENEW program (babyearth.com/renew), which accepts things like car seats, strollers and high chairs for recycling. You have to foot the shipping bill (typically $20 to $30, depending on weight), but they’ll make sure the seats are dismantled and the component parts are recycled. Visit their website for specific mailing instructions. If you want to earn some green bonus points, write to your car seat manufacturer and ask them to become more environmentally responsible by implementing a car seat take-back program