Once a year, Babies "R" Us locations all across the country have an in-store event where you can bring in your expired car seats or other baby products that you may have safety concerns about, trading them in for a huge discount on new items to replace them. The Great Trade-In Event generally happens near the beginning of the year and is a quick and easy way to benefit from that expired car seat taking up room in your basement.
Use your expired car seat to make a difference in the world with the BabyEarthRENEW program. Although you pay for the shipping to get your expired car seat to their facility, it's well worth the cost — BabyEarth takes apart each seat and sends the materials to developing countries, who can use the straps, buckles and other pieces for new purposes. What they can't pass on, they send to certified recycling centers. BabyEarth also accepts other broken-down baby gear, such as highchairs and bouncers.
If neither of these are an option for you, the next step is to get on the phone to your local children's stores — consignment stores in your area, in particular, will often offer a weekend during the year when you can bring in your expired car seat, charging you a small donation that goes to a local charity for them to dispose of it properly. Most recycling centers will also take expired car seats as well. They often have requirements about how the car seat should arrive (straps and buckles removed, for example) and may charge you a small fee (less than $10) for the service.
The last resort, when it comes to disposing of an expired car seat, is to simply throw it away. But, be sure to take some precautions before setting your expired car seat out at the curb with your weekly garbage pick-up. Cut the straps on the seat or remove them all together to insure that nobody will snag it from outside and take it home to use. Even if you take it to your local garbage center yourself, be sure to make it unusable, so that another family isn't tempted to use what probably still looks like a perfectly functioning car seat for their child.
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