Five Ways to Recycle Empty Cosmetic and Personal Care Containers

Beauty and personal care product packaging contributes tons of plastic waste to landfills every year. In order to minimize my carbon footprint, I collect empty beauty containers every few months to see what I can do with them! Here are some of my favorite ways to reuse and recycle these items.

  1. 1. Room decor and organization.

    When it comes to cute candle jars and smaller containers, I’ll use them where I can in my apartment as decor or for organization! I got the candle in the picture at a farmers market, and I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it, so now it’s a pencil holder on my desk. I have another one that I use as a trinket dish for my keys, but you can also reuse candle jars and other cosmetic containers to hold cotton balls and Q-tips in your bathroom or to hold paper clips and thumbtacks.

  2. 2. Take advantage of return programs.

    Lush and MAC are two main brands that will take back containers in exchange for free products! If you take six MAC containers back, you'll get a free lipstick of your choice, and if you take back five empty Lush pots, you’ll get a free mask.

  3. 3. Use refillable products.

    Something I’ve been doing more recently (and want to do more) is using refillable products! The toothpaste bits from Bite (pictured above) are one of my favorites because not only does it eliminate the plastic toothpaste tube, but the packaging the bits come in is compostable and recyclable. I also reuse empty containers and fill them with my own moisturizer or lotion when traveling!

  4. 4. Recycle what you can at home.

    Many products can be recycled regularly! Just look at the bottom of the container for the number and see if it’s accepted. For a full list of recyclable items in Boulder, click here!

  5. 5. Utilize a recycling program.

    Finally, there are recycling programs specifically for beauty and personal care containers. One of the main ones is TerraCycle. They’ve partnered with Garnier to offer a free recycling program for all skincare, hair care, and cosmetic brand packaging.

    Another brand I love to use is Ilia Beauty. All you have to do is fill out a form and they’ll email you a shipping label (I only had to wait a day for mine), then send up to 5 empties and they’ll recycle it through TerraCycle!

There are countless other ways you can help the planet when it comes to personal care, hair, and beauty products, but if you’re unsure where to start, this is a great place. Even though I can’t do everything, I do what I can to help the environment one step at a time!