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5 Easy Ways To Find The Safest Car Seat For Your Kids

By Maria Cook

A car seat is one of the most important purchases a parent will ever make. When it comes time to choose which model to buy, any parent will tell you that safety is everything. But there is more safety to consider than just crash safety. In recent years, some materials in car seats (mostly the flame-retardants that are necessary to make the seats fire-proof in the event of a violent crash) have been found to have high levels of toxicity. This is bad news for kids and the environment. Car seats also contain a lot of plastic (non-biodegradable!) components and many brands use a lot of unnecessary packaging. 

But there are ways to manage all these factors and choose a car seat that is right for you and your kids. Here are five easy ways to find an eco-friendly car seat! 

1. Check out the car seat you already own.

If your kids are a few years apart in age, it's possible you might have a hand-me-down car seat situation. Or maybe you just want to ensure that your child's current car seat is safe enough to continue using. After all, reusing is always better for the environment than buying new. But how can you be sure of your current car seat's toxicity levels? 

Never fear, there's a guide for that! In June 2015, the Ecology Center at HealthyStuff.org released a list of brands with the highest and lowest toxicity ratings. Check to see if your current car seat is on it! If not, it's likely somewhere in the middle, with levels that aren't extremely high, nor extremely low. Only you can decide what levels you're comfortable with. 

2. Consider buying used.

Reusing is even more eco-friendly than recycling! It's one of the most effective ways to cut waste and save money. But where can you find a used car seat to buy? Looking locally might be best. Craigslist can be a great resource. So can garage sales and neighborhood sales groups. A few things to keep in mind before buying? 

Be sure to check the car seat's expiration date, check the model on the manufacturer's website to ensure it has not been recalled, check for odors such as cigarette smoke, and if at all possible, get an owner's manual from the previous owner. If they no longer have the owner's manual, call the manufacturer or visit their website to see if you can receive a free copy. 

3. Consider integrated car seats.

Buying a new car just to get a car seat might be going a tad overboard, but if you find that you're in the market for a new car anyway, why not check out some that feature integrated car seats? Most of these seats adjust for growth and don't cost any more as add-ons than a new car seat would cost on its own. Plus no packaging means no waste! 

Wondering which cars brands offer this type of seat? Currently, the list is short: only Volvo and Dodge. To check out which specific models offer the seats, look no farther than cars.com, which offers an info guide on the subject.