What do I do with my breast pump now that I don’t need it?
This is a question I’ve been asking myself for about a year and a half, and now thanks to my bloggy friend Josey, I know!
I’ve only ever used Medela pumps. I was lucky enough to receive a Medela Pump in Style Advanced as a gift before G was born. It didn’t even last a year before the suction on the right side started slowing. I am sure I could have asked for a replacement motor (Medela backs the motor with a one year warranty), but feeling as overwhelmed as I did about my day-to-day routine, I felt I didn’t have time for that. I managed, but knew I would need a new pump if we had another baby. So what do I do with the old one knowing it probably wasn’t going to last through another breast feeding journey?
I had considered selling my old pump. Goodness knows we need the money, even if I sold it for $50-$100. I have a few friends who bought their Medelas off Craig’s List or at local consignment sales. But I felt weird selling mine, as Medela pumps aren’t closed systems, meaning breast milk can enter the pump and contaminate it. Plus, the motor isn’t in the greatest shape. I felt that would be a shitty thing for me to do.
After reading Josey’s post about recycling her Medela pumps, I dug a little deeper into Medela’s recycling program. I was feeling a little silly that I had never heard of this program before; however, it turns out, this is a new program. Medela didn’t start their program until late 2014/early 2015. In fact, I found a petition at Change.org from late 2014 asking Medela to accept old pumps to keep them out of landfills. And that probably explains why only 600-odd pumps have been donated so far.
I received a new electric pump though my health insurance when L was born. If you’re wondering how in the world you’re going to afford a pump, know that the Affordable Care Act now requires many insurance companies to provide you a breast pump free of charge. Your insurance may have rules dictating what kind you get and if you receive it before or after the birth of your baby, but electric pumps are so expensive it’s worth looking into. If you’ve already bought one, you can even get reimbursed! I wasn’t sure I’d qualify, since I wasn’t planning on going back to work, but it didn’t matter. My insurance provided me with another Medela pump, which was awesome because I didn’t want to buy new parts and pieces should I find myself pumping more often than I thought I would. It arrived shortly after my request for a pump was approved.
Still not quite sure what to do with my original pump, I decided to keep it as a back up. I actually didn’t use it. I rarely used the new one, usually opting for my Medela Harmony manual breast pump (affiliate).
Medela only wants your pump motor, which makes me happy because I wanted to keep the bag my Pump in Style came with (way more stylish than the small cooler-looking bag my newer one came in). Their guidelines suggest tossing the other parts (shields, tubing, etc.) into the recycling, which is also good to know. I wasn’t sure what to do with everything else if I couldn’t sell it. (A lot of the consignment store sand sales around me are now banning anyone from selling pumps and their parts now.) Only electric Medela pumps are accepted; if you have a hand pump they suggest recycling it. (Seriously, I’m so glad I can recycle all this other stuff!)
Shipping is free, just go to the website to get your shipping label. Stick the label on the box with your motor inside and hand it over to the post office. Medela says they will email you when your pump arrives at their facility.
Medela doesn’t actually reuse the pump, rather for each pump they receive they donate one to the Ronald McDonald House, helping moms whose babies are in the NICU. Since G spent some time in the NICU, I totally understand how hard and frustrating it can be when you want to give your baby breast milk but you aren’t able to nurse when you need/want to. It makes me very happy to help out mamas going through situations like that. The returned pump is taken apart and the different pieces are recycled.
I looked to see if any other companies offer a recycling program for breast pumps. The only other company I found with a recycle program is Hygeia. Their pumps are made so they can be used by multiple mothers, making them more acceptable to resell or donate. The new user just needs to buy their own accessory kit. But if you are unable to find another mom to take it off your hands, you can contact them and they will send you information on how to send it to them to recycle or refurbish.
Would you consider recycling your breast pump?
If you have a pump other than a Medela or Hygeia, does the manufacturer have a recycle program? If so, please share in the comments. This is information worth knowing!