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How to Easily Recycle Your Empties & Old Makeup Products So You Can Help the Environment

For all of us beauty enthusiasts, there’s nothing like having all the latest releases from our favorite makeup lines. I mean, one can never have too many lipsticks. But then our vanity organizers and makeup drawers start to overflow, and before you know it, it’s time to get rid of some of those old products that have been sitting there forever and let go of all of those empty containers. Tossing them might seem like the obvious option, but it’s actually more harmful for the planet than you might think.

When we send those old compact and empty lipstick tubes to the trash, we’re contributing to the enormous pileup of unrecyclable plastics in landfills. According to a report by Zero Waste Europe, the cosmetics industry produces 120 billion units of packaging every single year, which mean that 120 billion units will likely find their way into the landfill. Yikes.

While you can’t recycle old makeup itself, you can dispose of your makeup properly and recycle your old containers. Eco Life advised Bustle of the safest way to get rid of old cosmetics, explaining, “Carefully remove [makeup] from the containers and put it all in a sealed jar or packaging that you can then send to the landfill.” As a result, no chemicals can leak out, which is harmful for the environment.

So in the spirit of Earth Day, which was just on April 22nd (and we should strive to recognize every day), here are some easy and sustainable ways to recycle your old makeup containers.

Reuse Your Containers

One of the easiest ways to recycle your old makeup and beauty containers is to repurpose them. If there is an old perfume bottle that you have always loved and admired, try reusing it as a beautiful vase for flowers. For DIY fans, use your old compacts and chapstick containers for homemade lip balms and scrubs. The options are endless, and by repurposing them, you’re preventing them from ending up in the landfill.

Store Drop-Off Programs

Look into seeing if your makeup brand has a recycling program. MAC Cosmetics, for example, has a Back To MAC initiative, and for every six cosmetic containers you bring in to be recycled, you get a lipstick for free. So, you’ll get a treat in return for doing your part to recycle. How awesome is that!

Origins and Aveda have recycling programs, too. Origins accepts any brand’s cosmetics packaging and containers, and you could get a free sample in return. Aveda accepts caps from any brand’s cosmetics as well.

Recycle Via Mail-In Programs

Organizations, like TerraCycle, offer recycling programs to properly dispose of your old beauty containers. Participating in TerraCycle is free and a wide variety of products are accepted in the program. According to Refinery29, TerraCycle has recycled over 16 million units of beauty packaging and works with brands like eos, Burt’s Bees and L’Occitane. TerraCycle has also teamed up with Garnier to create a recycling program for hair and skin care, and cosmetic product packaging.

“Beauty packaging sent in to TerraCycle for recycling will be shredded, cleaned, and sorted by plastic type,” Gina Herrera, Director of North American Client Services for TerraCycle, explained. “The plastic shreds will then be melted and formed into small plastic pellets that can then be molded into a wide range of plastic products like plastic lumber, decking, and playground equipment.”

Make Sustainable Cosmetic Purchases

To really help the planet, try to be mindful about making more sustainable purchases when shopping for new for beauty products. According to Bustle, beauty brands like Tarte, Smashbox, Mary Kay, and Sephora offer refillable makeup pans to prevent waste. You can even look for more alternatives like makeup removal towels.

Hopefully, by repurposing old containers and recycling them properly, or making more sustainable beauty purchases, we can all do our part to help out the planet.

Emily has also authored political articles for Restless Magazine and numerous inspirational and empowering pieces for Project Wednesday. When she isn't writing, she can be found flying off to her next adventure, attempting new recipes, listening to one of her infinite playlists on Spotify, or cuddling with her dogs. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @emilycveith.