WestSide Baby announces “Re-Ride” Car Seat Reuse and Recycling

WestSide Baby, the local agency best known for diaper drives and gently used children's clothing re-disribution gets less attention for it's work on car seats but they've been collecting them and and re distributing them now for some time. They are launching a new effort they are calling “Re-Ride” Car Seat Reuse and Recycling on Sept. 17 from 10 am to 2 pm that will include recycling of those seats.

The need for car seats, especially for lower income families is serious.

In Washington State, children are required to be in a car seat or booster seat up until at least age six. According to 2009 statistics provided by Safe Kids King County South, car crashes are the #1 killer of children in South King County.

Nationally, for every child lost, 18 more are hospitalized with injuries and 400 more receive medical attention. A local firefighter shared, “you only need to be the first responder to one car accident involving a child who was not in a car seat to believe in the importance of properly restraining children in cars.”

When funds are limited it becomes a real problem to spend between $80 and $500 on a car seat.

In a typical phone call to WestSide Baby, a mother reported that she was isolated at home with a newborn and a toddler. She was lonely and stressed. She had a car seat for her infant but her husband accidentally broke it trying to adjust the handles. It’s very likely the seat was old if the plastic was brittle enough to break through general adjustments. Aside from an overall need to get out of her house, this mom desperately needed to go to the local food bank for provisions and was not on a nearby bus route.

In another case a grandmother had recently taken in her grandson but the child’s mother refused to give the grandmother the car seat. While the agency could provide a seat to this mother through one of their agency partners, she had no choice but to drive her 2 year old grandson unrestrained in the car to pick it up. It was a very big decision for her because she recognized that this child was entrusted to her care.

WestSide Baby provides car seats and booster seats to local children in need. They re-enter the community through partnerships with more than 90 established social service agencies like food banks, DSHS, public health and Neighborhood House. By providing these car seats, WestSide Baby allows families to transport children to school and medical appointments. It means parents can drop children at day care on the way to work. Now that schools will not bus children living within one mile of the school, parents now need to strap several children into a car to take a sibling eight or nine blocks to school.

Because most local hospitals will not release an infant unless a parent can prove they have a properly fitting infant seat with them, the car seats they provide will allow a mother to leave the hospital with her newborn. Year to date, WestSide Baby has distributed 309 car seats to children. A small portion of those were purchased new while 95% were used and carefully inspected by a certified car seat technician who spends on average 35 minutes on each seat.

Because seats must fit a child in order to provide the needed protection in a crash, most children will have at least 3 seats in their lifetime. As car seats age, manufacturers and safety experts recommend replacing them after 5 years. This means that in a family with more than one child, it’s possible that six or more child restraint seats will be purchased and later outgrown. Car seats cannot be recycled in Seattle or King County through regular curbside recycling bins. Children’s equipment items such as car seats, high chairs and cribs are not routinely taken by donation agencies such as Goodwill or Northwest Center’s big blue trucks because of liability concerns.

WestSide Baby will take all your car seats and most other children’s safety equipment items. Reusable seats that pass age and safety inspections will be processed and distributed to other local children needing a seat. Seats that are too old, have recall issues, have been in a car accident or have straps that have been washed in harsh chemicals will now be recycled locally and affordably. With a suggested donation of $5 to help cover our program costs, they will take your seat and recycle it through a partnership with Total Reclaim, their car seat recycling partner.

Not sure if your seat it reusable or not? They will give it a 20 second inspection for manufacture dates and ask you a few questions. If it passes this step, they will process it onward. If it doesn’t they will strip it down and send all the different components off for recycling.

For more information visit www.westsidebaby.org.

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