Donations of prams, cots, high chairs and car seats to an Op Shop can be unsustainable. Many Op Shops are not able to check if the goods meet current Australian Safety Standards so they are sent to land fill.

Here’s why donating baby goods to Op Shops is unsustainable

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Sending your unwanted goods to an Op shop seems a great way to tick your personal sustainability box. This especially applies to baby goods, many of which are hardly used before they are outgrown by your bubba. The problem is that while eco-ethical standards rest at the consumer level, some baby goods must meet mandatory Australian Safety Standards before they can be sold.

Many Op shops do not have the resources to check the compliance of donated goods to safety standards. Instead, they often send valuable donations such as electrical goods, prams, cots and car seats to the tip.

An Op shop can optionally meet eco-ethical standards, but it must meet product safety standards

We all want to buy goods that meet international standards for manufacturing, ethical treatment of workers, and the environment (see table at the end of this post). Assessing whether or not a manufacturer has sustainable and ethical practices can be time-consuming and is not straightforward. Manufacturer’s responses to questions about the eco-ethical and safety standards that apply to their products vary…

So, there are many reasons why it can be hard to track down the eco-ethical status of something.

Parents role in ensuring baby goods are sustainable

Parents also play an important role in how sustainable a baby product is. Up-front thinking about equipment over its entire life can prevent baby goods going to landfill before their time. By this, I mean buy good-quality kit that will last, and then look after it. That way it will be in good shape for your next baby, or someone else’s baby.

Why you should not donate used baby goods to your local Op shop

Believe it or not, safety standards also play an important role in an item’s sustainability. Goods can be subject to recalls and safety updates. Goods that meet current safety standards can be re-homed over-and-over. Goods that do not, cannot!

When you’ve finished with your baby goods, do not donate them to your local Op shop unless you discuss your precious donation with them first. Op shops do not usually have the expertise to deal with safety standards. That’s why many Op shops send items that need to meet safety standards (eg. expensive prams and car seats) straight to landfill.

Yes. You did read that. Many Op shops send your beautiful, well intentioned, much loved donations to landfill !

By the way, sites like eBay and GumTree are not able to guarantee compliance with current safety standards, so be careful if you plan to buy pre-loved baby goods from there.

Here’s where you should send your donations

To avoid having your donations sent to landfill, you need to donate your used baby equipment to organisations that have the skills to check their compliance with current safety standards. St Kilda mums and its sister organisations around Australia are professionals at this.

As a guide, they can take capsules, car seats, booster seats, bouncers and rockers, cots, high chairs and prams that meet the relevant Australian Standard and were manufactured less than 8 years ago. The goods they can re-home are specified in greater detail on their websites.

Some of the Standards that baby goods must meet

In Australia, for legal purposes, the importer of goods is deemed to be manufacturer of the goods. That is a great incentive for importers to ensure that the goods they import adhere to the relevant Australian Standards. It is also a warning not to buy cheap direct-from-china baby goods from online auction sites. 

The table below is a selection of the many standards that manufacturers importers must meet. 

Standard Nature of Standard Relevance
CPSIA (USA) Product safety standard for goods intended for children  
EN71 (Europe) Product safety standard for toys  
AS/NZS ISO 8124.1:2002 Safety for toys as explained in this ACCC link Toys
GOTS (Global) Ecological and social aspects of processing organic fibres Textiles
ISO 14001 (Global) Environmental facets of manufacturing (eg. air and water quality surrounding the factory) All goods
ISO 9001 (Global) Quality assurance standard   
Oeko-Tex® (Global)* Goods that meet this standard will not contain chemicals at harmful levels. Textiles and fabrics
OHSAS 18001 (Global) OH&S – Worker safety All goods
REACH (Europe)

Chemical certification

  • Minimization of animal testing
  • Obligation to assure product safety
Fabrics and Plastics
AS/NZS 1754 Capsule, car seat, booster seat safety  
AS/NZS 2088: 2000 High chair and pram standard  
AS/NZS 2172 Standard relating to cots  

Some of the many Standards that apply to baby goods.