Before deciding what to do with your old breast pump, you first need to understand the difference between an open system and a closed system. What you do with your pump will depend on what type of system your pump operates.
An open system breast pump means that your milk will come in contact with parts of the pump that can be cleaned but cannot be replaced. But even when cleaned it is difficult to dry. Mold can grow. An open system is meant for personal use by one user only. Cross contamination is possible and therefore should not be recirculated for others to use. In this case, simply recycle the parts that are recyclable in your curbside bin.
A closed system breast pump, on the other hand, was first developed for use in hospitals and thus labeled "hospital grade.” In a closed system, tubes and breast shields, any part that comes in contact with mothers milk, can be removed and cleaned/sterilized. These parts can also be replaced with new ones for the next user. A closed system, hospital grade breast pump can be recycled or recirculated for others to use.
If you have a closed system breast pump here are three ways to recirculate it:
Check With the Manufacturer
Some manufacturers like Medela have recycling programs in place for you to take advantage of.
Remove the plastic tubes and breast shield and put those in your curbside recycle bin. Then list your pump on eBay or Craigslist. It is much more affordable to replace the tubing and breast shield for a used breast pump then it is to buy brand-new.
Donate it to a Women's Shelter
Once again either sterilize or remove the plastic tubing and breast shield prior to donating. Better yet, by the replacement tubing and breast shield yourself and donate it to the shelter ready to use.
Bonnie Jean Feldkamp is a writer and mother of three. If you liked this posting please follow her on Twitter @writerbonnie or like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WriterBonnie for more great info on Raising Kids.