What To Do with Old Bike Helmets? (Donate & Reuse)


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There’s no denying that bike helmets are an indispensable item to bikers as these products help ensure safety as they hurtle down the road.   

But that’s not just what bike helmets are about; they are also a part of your apparel. So, if you are a stylish rider or your bike helmet is not as comfortable anymore, consider buying a new one. 

Now, you may wonder what to do with old bike helmets? Well, that’s what I will talk about in this article. So, make sure you read it till the end.  

How Long Do Bike Helmets Last?

Just like most products, helmets too have a limited lifespan. After a certain point, its parts, such as the adhesives and the foam, begin to deteriorate, resulting in insufficient protection. That’s why the CPSC, also known as Consumer Product Safety, suggests replacing a bike helmet every ten years. 

Therefore, I think it’s safe to say that helmets last for up to ten years.

When To Replace Bike Helmets?

It’s no news that people should replace their bike helmets after an accident since the layer of foam inside the helmet is designed for one-time use. After a major blow or an accident, the helmet may not provide you with the required protection you would need in the event of another accident down the road.   

Exposure to chemicals such as solvents, ammonia gasoline, and even extreme heat can deteriorate the lifespan of a helmet. But apart from accidents, chemical, and heat damage, do you need to replace a helmet simply because it’s old?

Well, the answer is yes — especially if you are talking about an old helmet from the 70s. This is because helmets back then did not feature a styrofoam liner, making them less safe than the helmets today that adhere to the ANSI standards.

Also, you should replace it if you have accidentally dropped it on a hard surface. It’s worth noting that any blow or image can deteriorate the quality of protection offered by your helmet. Plus, there could be dents and cracks that you may not be able to see. Nevertheless, these minor damages can still reduce the effectiveness of the helmet to a great extent. 

Long story short, the newer your helmet is, the better protection it offers because they undergo improvements and innovations every year to meet updates and current safety standards.    

Can Bike Helmets Be Recycled?

Most bike helmets feature an EPS foam liner, a plastic shell, a plastic buckle, and nylon straps. As a result, it becomes difficult to recycle them. So, I strongly recommend that you get in touch with the local recycling center and ask them if they would accept the plastic part of the helmet for recycling. 

If they do, it would be best if you take your helmet apart and throw only the plastic casing into the nearby recycling bin. They may or may not accept it for recycling, but don’t worry as there are other things that you can do with your old bike helmet. You can even use the EPS material for soil amendment or for packing materials. 

In conclusion, you may most likely not be able to recycle your bike helmet in a local recycling center.         

What To Do with Old Bike Helmets?

If you are not able to recycle the old bike helmet, here are a few options that you can consider: 

Donating your bike helmet to emergency services, like fire stations, is perhaps the best thing that you can do. They will accept your old helmet and use it for training purposes, such as teaching the new recruits how to remove a helmet off an injured cyclist or motorist.

Apart from that, donating old helmets to schools is a great idea. Here, the teachers would perhaps use those helmets during playtime. For instance, they could come in handy in imaginative plays where the students pretend to be astronauts, policemen, and so on. 

That being said, remember that you should never donate an old helmet to your friends, relatives, or any other cycling enthusiast who would use it while riding a bike. Doing so would be an irresponsible act and could cause severe head trauma and become fatal for the concerned person. 


Photo: Heather Goodman

There are many ingenious ways in which you can reuse your old helmet. For instance, you can use it as a wall-mounted or hanging basket for your plants. All you need is to fill the helmet with potting mix after getting rid of the padding. 

You may also remove the straps and attach a decorative chain and wiring to hang the basket near the windows or out on the patio. Additionally, you can reuse the old helmet as an eye-catching mailbox. You don’t need to make it too fancy; simply paint it, and you are good to go.

Alternatively, you can reuse the helmet as an outdoor or indoor lamp. In this way, you can channel your creativity and find out even more ways to reuse your helmet in environmentally friendly and safe ways.

Final Thoughts

On that note, I have almost reached the end of my guide. Hopefully, you have figured out what to do with an old helmet by now.

Keep in mind that a helmet should only be used for five to ten years if it has never been involved in any blow or crash. But if it has, replace it as soon as possible because even if the damages may seem minor, they have most likely reduced the effectiveness of the helmet by half.

You may consider recycling your old helmet, but a better decision would be to donate it or reuse it for other purposes.

With that, it’s a wrap. Until next time, take care!

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Matt Scofield
Matt Scofield

Hi! I’m Matt, an adventure freak who lives and breathes the great outdoors. Spending time under the open sky always appealed to me, even as a kid. Perhaps that’s why I liked camping with my dad so much. The days spent hiking and the nights around the campfire are times I’ll cherish forever.

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