So you’ve decided to stop breastfeeding and you’re considering two options: let your breast pump sit and collect dust, or throw it out hoping that maybe some of the parts are biodegradable (spoiler: they aren’t!).
Instead, consider these three environmentally-friendly tips to keep your conscience clear and your breast pump out of landfills.
Medela is one of the most popular breast pump brands on the market. Through its Medela Recycles program, you can ship your personal, electric Medela breast pump back to the company. To do so, you will need to cover the cost of shipping but in return, you will enjoy peace of mind knowing that the breast pump will be recycled properly. If your breast pump is a brand other than Medela, contact the manufacturer to see if they have a recycling program. Alternatively, many cities offer curbside appliance and electronics recycling.
Some of your breast pump’s accessories might also be recyclable depending on your community’s recycling capabilities. Most curbside recycling programs accept #1 and #2 plastics, but some will also accept #5, polypropylene plastic, which is a plastic commonly used in baby bottles and breast milk storage containers. To understand your community’s recycling capabilities, contact your local waste management organization.
Unfortunately, silicon parts such as tubing and nipple shields cannot be easily recycled in most communities and should be thrown away. Here’s a list of parts that can and cannot be recycled.
2. Donate or Gift
Help out other new parents by donating or gifting your closed system, breast pump — as well as other gently used or unused baby items.
Before relegating your breast pump to the local landfill, it’s worth making a call to a few organizations to see if they are accepting closed-system breast pumps for donation. Many organizations are also in need of gently used baby items, baby and/or maternity clothes, and leftover baby food, formula, and diapers. So, before donating your pump, it’s worth taking inventory of your baby supplies to see if there is anything else you might be able to donate.
Some important information on donation pumps… donated and gifted breast pumps must be closed-system to prevent cross-contamination. With breast pump donations (as with all donations), it is important to ensure that items are only gently used and in working order. Breast pump motors have a limited lifespan — so before dropping your pump in the donation box, make sure that the motor will do its job. If the pump isn’t in good shape, recycling it would be a better option.
Here are a few places that may accept donations of closed-system breast pumps as well as other items.
The Birthing Circle is a non-profit based in Maryland that serves low-income and marginalized communities. In addition to breast pumps, they also accept baby bottles, maternity wear, gently-loved children’s clothing (up to 24 months), and toys.
The Buy Nothing Project is a community app with neighborhood chapters all over the world. Their grassroots mission is to buy less and share more! While Buy Nothing is not specific to breast pumps, there may be someone in your neighborhood looking for a closed system breast pump. Click here to find your local group.
Check your local secondhand kid shops or try these sites and apps:
Toycycle is an online consignment shop for babies 0–12. Curbside pickup is free in the San Francisco Bay Area and Austin. Otherwise, you can ship it to them anywhere in the US.
GoodBuy Gear is an online shop where parents can safely and sustainably circulate pre-loved gear. They do pickups, but only in Denver, Dallas, Houston, and Philadelphia for now (check back because they are always expanding locations).
Let Go app is an online marketplace. It’s a neighborhood favorite– easy to use and already has a built-in chat feature.
Facebook Marketplace, unfortunately, does not let you sell breast pumps for hygiene reasons, but there are still plenty of ways to give your breast pump a guilt-free goodbye!
Milk Stork and Recycling
Milk Stork’s EcoStash is the biggest, longest-lasting, and most sustainable breast milk shipping solution available. The EcoStash holds 240 ounces of frozen breast milk and keeps it frozen for 120 hours. When you are done with your EcoStash, you can send it back to us and receive a refund of $100.
Additionally, Milk Stork’s frozen breast milk shipping solutions can be reused. If you are taking another trip, you can purchase a new label for a previously purchased cooler here. Milk Stork’s frozen breast milk shipping coolers can also be used as easy on-the-go coolers, or even during a power failure to keep a stash of frozen breast milk safe.
Whether you decide to donate, recycle or sell your old breast pump – the Milk Stork team is always excited to cheer you on as you help the planet!