Introduction to Eco Car Seats
How to Purchase Eco Friendly Car Seats from Natural Fabrics to Used Car Seats
Of all of the green baby accessories we’ve tackled on Ecolife, eco car seats are probably the most challenging. There are very few options for those looking for car restraints with eco-friendly features. This article highlights which materials to avoid and how to go about purchasing natural car seats from recyclability to used car seats.
How to avoid unhealthy materials in your baby’s car seat
Start with the following list of materials you should avoid when shopping for eco car seats:
- Polyurethane foam: This is used to make baby mattresses, baby slings, and baby car seats, but it’s full of chemicals including formaldehyde, toluene, formaldehyde, benzene, and surfactants, all of which can pose serious health hazards for your baby. Choose natural latex rubber or organic cotton batting for a healthier car seat.
- Polyvinylchloride (PVC): Manufacturing and disposing of PVC creates dioxins which cause neurological, reproductive, developmental, and hormonal health problems. PVC plastic is highly flexible and can be identified by the #3 in the chasing recycling arrows.
- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs): This is a class of flame retardants used widely for consumer products, including baby carriers. They can dissolve out of consumer products and be absorbed by the human body where they accumulate in our fat and resist degradation. Over time as they build up they can create health problems like decreased thyroid hormone levels, low birth weights in babies, hyperactivity, and even cancer.
Ways to spot an eco car seat
Finding a green car seat isn’t just about avoiding certain materials, it’s about looking for eco-friendly characteristics, too, and here are a few:
- Natural fabrics: Look for baby carriers that are made with eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton and wool, bamboo, or recycled polyester (check out our fabric recommendations for organic baby carriers). Just as with any textile you buy for your baby (clothing, slings, wraps, or linens), choosing natural options will protect their health and the planet. And be sure to stay away from convenience finishes that make fabrics stain-resistant or flame retardants as these can be highly toxic.
- Longevity: Look for something that will grow and adjust as your child develops. That way you’ll only have to purchase one car seat for your child that will last them until they’re ready to sit on their own in the car.
- Recyclability: If possible, look for options that are either made from natural materials that will break down in the environment when composted or from recyclable materials. Likely with something as complex as a baby swing there will be a mix of materials (metal, plastic, wood, etc), in which case you should be able to disassemble the chair once it’s outlived its usefulness so that each individual component can be recycled. Of course, if you can find one made with recycled materials, even better.
- Used Car Seat: Always an eco-friendly choice, buying used baby carriers is both economical and very green. It means you’re reusing something rather than letting it be sent to a landfill. You are also preventing new resources from being used to make a new item. You can often find high quality items at secondhand stores such as TheBabyChain.com, Gently-Used.com, or try out Craigslist or Ebay. Also look into buying from a local secondhand baby store, like Once Upon a Child. Just be sure to check for recalls and safety warnings (the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a good place to find information) for any used models you consider before buying.
- Make your own organic seat cover: If you’re into sewing, try to make your own car seat cover with organic cotton, bamboo, wool, or whatever fabrics you like. Here are a couple of patterns: Make Them Yourself or Instructables.
Purchasing eco car seats and covers:
1 Five Problems with Baby Mattresses (Toxic Chemicals) . (n.d.). Retrieved May 20, 2010, from Healthy Child: http://www.healthychild.com/toxic-sleep/five-problems-with-baby-mattresses-toxic-chemicals/
2 PVC - THE POISON PLASTIC. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2010, from Greenpeace: http://archive.greenpeace.org/toxics/html/content/pvc1.html#dioxin
3 Healthy Milk, Healthy Baby - Chemicals: PBDEs. (n.d.). Retrieved May 19, 2010, from Natural Resources Defense Council: http://www.nrdc.org/breastmilk/pbde.asp