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Recycling your make-up: why being beautiful doesn't have to cost the earth


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It’s easy to know what to do with the plastic bag your spinach came in or how to recycle last night's wine bottle, but what to do with the mirrored glass, metal trays and the plastic wand from your empty eyeshadow case is a bit more confusing. 

Image credit: Matt Trostle on Flickr

120 billion units of packaging are produced every year by the global cosmetics industry.  The most common beauty products in your make-up bag will be contributing to the world's growing plastic problem and will end up in landfill, being burned or buried. Many of your plastic items will find their way into our oceans and waterways, contributing to further environmental damage. 

Here is a quick guide to what you can do to help solve the global plastic crisis. 

Shampoo bottles, shower gel and other plastics can be put in your normal recycling. Make sure they are washed out and dry. Dispose of any left over product in your normal bin and not down the sink. You can  leave the lids on as these can be recycled - unless it’s a trigger head or a pump, which will need to go in your normal bin. 

The same applies to glass jars. Wash and put out with your empty wine bottles and jam jars. 

Aerosols such as deodorant and hair products can all be recycled - hoorah! 

Many products will come wrapped in cellophane, which annoyingly needs to go in your normal rubbish bin.

Nail varnish, perfume bottles, make-up brushes and mirrors also can’t be recycled and need to be put out with your normal rubbish. 

Mascara, lipstick and make-up palettes contain too many different elements to be placed in our household recycling . However, Garnier has teamed up with Terracycle to create a free recycling programme for all beauty product packaging. Visit the site to find a drop off point near you.   

Finished shaving your legs (or any other part of your body)? The English Shaving Company  can provide lots of details on how to save razor blades safely and arrange for their recycling.

Plastic Freedom collect clean mascara wands and distribute them to be used to groom wild and rescued animals. Mascara wands are the perfect size for brushing an injured mouse!

We all know that face wipes are bad and should never be flushed away. Put them into your normal waste bin (or better still, don't use them at all). Cotton pads can be recycled with your food waste, so pop them into the compost bin.

And finally, not quite beauty related but something all of us girls have to deal with - ‘period products’. As a general rule, nothing should be flushed. Wrappings and applicators made of plastic should be put in the normal bin, and cardboard boxes etc can be put out with other card and paper waste. Better still, ditch the single-use products and invest in some magical period pants instead.

With a bit of planning and thought we can make sure that we are recycling our beauty products properly so that looking good doesn’t have to cost the earth. 

Lead image credit: Matt Trostle on Flickr

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