🌎 Earth Day: Reuse or Recycle ♻️ Your Car Seat?

How Can We Protect Planet Earth 🌎 While Having to Use So Much Baby Gear at the Same Time?

Earth Day is here and it’s important to all of us to maintain our planet so our children can grow up to enjoy its beautiful resources and benefit from its bounty. But with all the baby gear that goes along with having a little one, how can you decide what you truly need and how to get rid of it when you’re done?

Since we are carseat experts, we’re going to focus on carseats here. The first thing you need to know is that carseats are safety devices. They are designed to protect your child from injury or death in a sudden stop or crash. That may seem really obvious, but keep that in the back of your mind for now because it’s easy to lose sight of when you’re trying to make ends meet or reduce waste.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

We hear these three words a lot around Earth Day, so let’s look at how we can Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle when it comes to child passenger safety.


How can we reduce when it comes to carseats? Kids need to use carseats, right? Yep. And don’t think about skipping the booster either, because that’s a very needed step as a child grows older and larger. Here are some ways to reduce usage in carseats, though admittedly, there’s not a lot you can safely do to reduce with carseats:

Infant Stage

Start out with a convertible (rear-facing/forward-facing) or all-in-one (rear-facing/forward-facing/booster) carseat instead of a rear-facing only infant seat. The vast majority of convertibles/all-in-ones start at 5 lbs. (some start at 4 lbs.), so they will fit small infants. It’s a fallacy that you absolutely need the infant seat or that a hospital requires you to have one for discharge. It may be recommended, but that’s not the same as required.

However, some convertibles/all-in-ones may start at 5 lbs., but they may not fit tiny babies well. This is where doing some research first—reading reviews by trained experts and taking a small doll to the store to try the carseat—will help. If you don’t feel comfortable with the fit of a convertible carseat, by all means, use an infant seat—and if you have a preemie, you’re guaranteed to need an infant seat that fits preemies well. You can cut back in other areas of your life.

Toddler (2+)/Preschool Stage

Be forward-thinking. If your child needs a new carseat, think about the stage they’re in right now, but also what you think you may do with the carseat in the future. Will they have a younger sibling who will use the carseat? If that’s the case and they are already forward-facing, buying an all-in-one carseat that has rear-facing capabilities may make sense. If the seat won’t be handed down to a smaller sibling, that doesn’t make sense and a forward-facing only seat may be more cost-efficient.

Booster Stage

This is the end stage of carseats and boosters take a lot of beating. A lot. Even the nicest boosters end up looking like they’ve been dragged behind the car. If your child is comfortable using a booster and doesn’t sleep in the car, a backless booster works just fine.


Can we reuse carseats? This is a loaded question that has many branches to the answer. Let’s break it down.

Yes, if:

  • It’s handed down from a sibling/family member
  • Hasn’t expired
  • Wasn’t in a crash as defined by the manufacturer
  • Has been washed according to manufacturer instructions
  • Has no recalls or has had recalls repaired

Yes, if:

  • It’s from a trusted friend
  • Hasn’t expired
  • Wasn’t in a crash as defined by the manufacturer
  • Has been washed according to manufacturer instructions
  • Has no recalls or has had recalls repaired

No, if:

  • It’s from a marketplace, like FB Marketplace, OfferUp, eBay, GoodBuy Gear, resale store, etc.
    • GoodBuy Gear does offer a 30-point proprietary inspection of every carseat they sell and they include a hard copy of the instruction manual. While I think it’s better than FB Marketplace and OfferUp, it’s still a used carseat in most cases and you’re still trusting someone to sell you a used safety device.

No, if:

  • It’s from a garage sale, yard sale, rummage sale, etc.

Ask yourself: Do I trust the person selling me this carseat with my child’s life? They’re there to sell you a carseat to get it out of their life. They want it gone. What’s their motivation? Remember, this is a safety device designed to save your child’s life. You want it in tip-top shape, so purchasing the $80 brand-new carseat with less padding at the store is better than buying the $150 used carseat with all the trimmings from someone you don’t know.

It may be missing labels you need to see but don’t know to look for, or important parts.

That carseat that’s 20 years old that was stored in someone’s basement/attic/garage but looks in perfect condition because it was only used twice for the grandkids? Yeah, it’s a deathtrap.

Plastic degrades over time. Manufacturers put additives in plastic to give it strength for its designated purpose for a particular amount of time. Is a safety device really where you want to cut corners?


There are recycling programs for carseats and some manufacturers will help you with the process.

Ten years ago, Clek became the first carseat manufacturer to recycle their carseats. Now they’ve partnered with CarSeatRecycling.com to recycle all carseats, and WAYB recycles there too. I asked about how carseat recycling works:

We work with recyclers across the US that dismantle the seats, separate each material and handle the first processing steps. They then send the shredded plastics to specific plastic recyclers that will further process the material into pellets. Those pellets will be formulated with others to make something such as a bench for example. The actual recycling processes differ for metal, foam, nylon and fabrics of course, but they are all recycled and processed into raw material in the US. On average, about 85%-90% by weight is recycled.

CarSeatRecycling.com also recycles carseats in large volume Gaylord boxes (yeah, I Googled it too—they’re the big boxes on pallets, like the carseat recycling boxes at Target).

You can also check with your local recycling company to see if they accept carseats. Some do!

Once a year in April, Target partners with the Waste Management company for the Trade-In Event. Our Target Trade-In Event article has all the info you could possibly want on the event and as soon as the next date is announced, we let you know too.

There you have it: three different ways to lighten the burden on our planet and I didn’t even mention the steps some manufacturers are taking by making sure they’re leaving behind a greener planet—there are many!


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