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3 Ways to Be More Eco-Friendly While Exclusively Pumping

Want to cut down on waste while pumping? One writer shares her sustainability journey and offers tips for other new moms.

Written by
Alex Chrisco
I exclusively pumped for my almost nine-month-old son. While we're now relying on our freezer stash to get us to the one-year mark, as I reflect on my journey, I'm still shocked when I think about how much waste can be produced with exclusive pumping.
While most of the parts for breast pumps are plastic or silicone,
recycling parts
is not always discussed. Early on, I assumed most pumping-related items couldn’t be recycled—but I was wrong. Here's a list of three things I began doing on my pumping journey to reduce my environmental impact and serve my local community.

3 Ways to Be More Eco-Friendly When Pumping

1. Get a washbasin for your dirty pump parts and bottles.

I was shocked to learn how much water I used
when washing dishes
at the end of the day. As an exclusive pumper, I pumped 8 to 10 times a day for most of my nine-month breastfeeding journey. This meant a lot of dishes and parts to be washed at the end of the day.
I began collecting used pump parts and bottles in a basin throughout the day, and at night, I would fill the basin with hot soapy water and turn the faucet off so it wasn't continuously running while I was washing. Not only will using a washbasin help keep your water bill down, but it also prevents you from wasting water during a mundane activity where you probably aren’t paying attention to how much water you’re really using.

2. Learn which pump and bottle parts can be recycled (and what needs to be discarded).

The first time I changed my pump parts, it didn’t even occur to me that most of the plastic pieces could be sanitized and recycled.
There are certain pieces that need to be discarded and cannot be recycled in the traditional sense. Typically, you're unable to recycle used duckbills, the interior diaphragm of your backflow protector, and the tubing. However, your hard plastic flanges, valves, and the hard plastic outer shell of your backflow protector can be recycled in your household recycling.
While breast pump motors typically need to be taken to an electronics recycling company, you can always contact your local municipality to find an authorized center near you. If you have a portable breast pump with a built-in motor, reach out to the company and ask what can and can’t be recycled.

3. Properly store your parts for future babies, or find a local family to donate to.

If your parts are still in good condition with lots of life left, try posting them in your local breastmilk sharing or
Buy Nothing group
. There are many families in need who would be more than happy to give your pump parts a new life. If you have parts you purchased but didn’t use, you can save them for a future breastfeeding journey, if you plan on having more babies. If not, you can certainly donate any unused parts of breast pumps to a local family.
Exclusively pumping can be an isolating, expensive journey. Being in touch with your local community is not only a way to serve others, but it can be incredibly beneficial for you as an exclusive pumper to have those connections. Whether you nursed, pumped, or formula-fed your baby, it’s important that we all think of ways to reduce our environmental impact as we work hard to give our babies the best we can.