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After severely whacking my head while skiing last week (don't ask - even I don't know how I fell!), I've been considering replacing my ski helmet, especially as this is the 3rd season I've been using it. But the how do I properly dispose of this helmet once I replace it? I don't like the idea of just throwing it the trash. And as it is getting past its used by date, I also don't want to sell/give it away to some unsuspecting person.

FWIW it's a Giro Nine MIPS helmet.

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  • Does your town/area have a station to hand in all waste that should not go in the bin?
    – Willeke
    Dec 28, 2023 at 18:55
  • @Willeke They only discuss things like eWaste, car batteries and medications etc. And styrofoam does go straight in the trash, but the plastic shell of the helmet is fused the the foam inner. But I dislike throwing things in the trash that could be recycled.
    – Peter M
    Dec 28, 2023 at 19:00
  • Sorry, what is wrong with just throwing it in the bin? It's not that bulky, doing this once every hand full of years is surely no problem?
    – fgysin
    Jan 11 at 12:27
  • The helmet maker will love you! Most vendors recommend to replace a helmet after 3-5 years - And they want to sell as many helmets as possible. Feb 17 at 16:23

3 Answers 3

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Break it properly then bin it, cut it in half or similar. The same is true of all helmets and most other safety kit. You need to ensure that nobody will consider it as a viable piece of safety equipment under any circumstances once it has hit end of life.

Recycling centres aren't going to take it because they're set up for bottles, packaging etc. The mixed materials are complex to separate and they'd have to work out which specific plastics they are as it probably doesn't have the markings to tell you.

In terms of whacking your head recently, I don't know about ski helmets specifically, but cycle and motorcycle helmets are both one and done. White water helmets are designed to take quite a beating due to the nature of rivers, but you should still consider replacement after a major impact.

Edit: Apparently ski helmets are much like white water helmets and in some cases made by the same companies, good for multiple small impacts but only one major one.

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I know you said you don't like the idea... but just throw it in the bin.

A helmet is not bulky enough to pose a really challenge to fit into most medium sized trash bags, so doing this once every hand full of years surely is no problem.

The chance of anyone finding your helmet in the trash and then trying to use it is A) very slim, and B) if people collect their safety equipment from trash then they should really not expect much from it...

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  • Reduce=>Reuse=>Recycle. There are about 135 million skiers in the world. Now imagine how much waste 135 million helmets represents. And repeat that every 2 or 3 years. Just because a single helmet doesn't represent a large issue doesn't mean that I want to contribute to that waste stream.
    – Peter M
    Jan 11 at 13:58
  • Well, you did ask about disposing the helmet. The question was not "should I throw away my helmet" (one might keep using it) or "how can I upcycle/creatively use my old helmet" (I'm sure there are plenty of creative ideas).
    – fgysin
    Jan 11 at 14:26
  • Also, you don't have to replace your helmet ever 2-3 years. IMHO if you don't take falls to the head that would be completely absurd. I do however believe that there are people who will try to make you believe you should... People who, coincidentally, often have some stake in companies producing said helmets.
    – fgysin
    Jan 11 at 14:29
  • @PeterM let us face it, there is no recycling for foam glued to a plastic shell. Recycling is only possible if the materials can be extracted and reused with reasonable effort. This is easy for old cans (pull them out with a magnet and melt) or glass (collect it by color and melt it). Some types of plastic can also be recycled if collected separately from other trash. A helmet - and by the way most other trash - will only have thermal use, a nice word for burning it.
    – Manziel
    Jan 11 at 14:36
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    And regarding the exchange rate...all materials age and old foam will not absorb shock the same way as new does. Taking heavy hits also takes its toll...literally. But that does not mean that helmets have to be exchanged every 2-3 years. I have replaced mine this season for the first time. At ~15 years it definitely was a bit overdue, but 7-10 years should be ok
    – Manziel
    Jan 11 at 16:43
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Don't dispose of it... turn it into a flower pot that doubles as an excellent conversation piece!

You can grow plants in all sorts of non-traditional containers. Just add some soil and a few seeds or some cuttings from thriving plants.

Other items that can be reused and work very well for this purpose:

  • old rock climbing helmets
  • old rock climbing chalk bags
  • old kayaks
  • old hiking boots
  • damaged water bottles
  • tennis ball & racquetball containers
  • rusty ammo boxes
  • old first aid boxes
  • old camera cases
  • casts that have been removed from old injuries (just glue the 2 halves back together, and plug one of the ends)

Enjoy!

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  • Interesting idea. I also had the idea of turning it into an art piece, but I'm too lazy for that.
    – Peter M
    Jan 11 at 14:00
  • Embrace your laziness. Grab your avalanche shovel and fill your helmet with soil from outside. Keep it outside where rain will hit it. Sooner or later, something will grow! Jan 11 at 15:07
  • Or if you're too lazy for that... an old helmet can be a great place to store your keys and wallet when get home. That way, you'll never lose them. (I keep my keys in an old rock climbing chalk bag.) Jan 11 at 15:08

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