Car seats have about a six year lifespan from the date of manufacture, depending on the brand and some features. When it's time to get rid of an expired car seat, though, I know many of you balk at the idea of sending a big hunk of plastic to the landfill. However, you can't usually just set a car seat out with your regular curbside recycling (though some towns have made those arrangements - it's worth a check).
Car seat recycling programs are popping up all over the country, which is great news for parents who want a greener option for car seat disposal. The majority of the plastic shell can be recycled as #5 or #7, and much of the metal in the car seat is also recyclable. You may even be able to strip the seat down and recycle the metal in your regular curbside recycling. The hard foam in the car seat is also recyclable if facilities exist in your community.
If there aren't car seat recycling programs in your area yet, you can also check to see if a recycling company will allow you to drop off your car seat directly. Some companies do allow individuals to drop things off for recycling. You may need to strip the seat of fabrics, webbing, soft foam or other materials before sending it to the recycling company. Letting your child help remove a few car seat components and sort them would be a great introduction to discussing recycling and reducing landfill waste.