So, what do you do with a car seat or booster you no longer need? That’s a big question that lots of folks ask themselves every day and usually the answer is to stick the seat next to the trash can on the curb. The problem with that fix is that there are other folks who like to look for a bargain, either out of necessity or just to say they found something great (and who hasn’t driven by someone else’s garbage and seen something in mint condition and thought, “Oh, look at that! If I just had a truck, I would take that home!”). Car seats are thrown away for a variety of reasons: they’ve been in a crash and shouldn’t be used again, they’ve expired, or perhaps mom found the cutest cover ever and just wanted to get that sickly brown car seat out of her garage ;).
Well, since I’ve never thrown away a car seat (much to my dh’s chagrin, lol, but hey, I’ve got a good excuse–I use them for my videos!), I can only give the advice that I’ve read before. If you go the garbage route, cut up the harness and cover. Write “Danger” on the shell of the seat and cover everything in a black garbage bag to keep dumpster divers from finding it. If you’re of the especially adventurous type and have the appropriate power tools and safety equipment (remember, we’re all about safety here!), take a saw to the seat itself. Reciprocating saws, I’ve heard, seem to work best. I would avoid running over the car seat with your vehicle, unless you’re in the mood to repair your vehicle. These car seats are built to last ;). But remember to put the pieces into a black garbage bag, because there’s always someone who thinks that duct tape fixes everything.
If you have a seat of interest, like a higher weight harness seat, see if your local Safe Kids coalition or instructors would like it for their technician classes. When we teach classes, we run scenarios that require a minimum of 30 seats to run properly, and the more seats we have (especially higher weight harnesses), the better. It doesn’t matter if the seat is expired or recalled (even better!), though I can say that we do like the covers to be cleaned up :D.
If you’re in a frou-frou community that prides itself on being green, you may even be able to take your old seat to be recycled. Contact your recycling/trash company or your local Safe Kids coalition to see if such a program exists in your area. If it does, color me green with envy.