How to Dispose of Cosmetic Waste, Phase One: The Cleanout


 - By Kailey Bradt

How to Dispose of Cosmetic Waste, Phase One: The Cleanout

I get so many questions about cosmetic waste, not only for our own packaging, but for all cosmetic packaging in general. Since this is a lengthy topic and the recycling industry is constantly evolving consider the date of this post! I will make sure to publish updated blog posts related to this topic as I learn more, so that we can continue to share this information with you!

Getting Started

The very first step in properly disposing of cosmetic waste is collecting it! For the first phase of this process, we are providing some tips for organizing your current assortment of cosmetic products and when you know it’s time to get rid of them. We're excited to take you on this journey with us.

Tips for The Cleanout
  • Set Good Vibes: It may sound silly, but it really helps to get a good playlist going when you’re cleaning. Light a candle nearby too. Why not?

  • Take a Snapshot: I personally recommend taking a snapshot of your uncleaned cabinet. Why? So you can be proud of your progress.

  • Take it All Out: Start with a clean, fresh space. If you’re like me and live in New York with very limited counter space, go shelf-by-shelf! Make sure the space you are organizing also gets a good wipe down.

Tips for Organizing
  • Keep Everyday Products Accessible: This may seem obvious, but you are more likely to use up a product that is already open if it’s easily accessible and easy-to-reach. This will help to prevent having 3 face washes open, two of a similar color lipstick, etc. Follow the #shopmystash movement and #showusyourempties!

  • Group Like Things Together: I found extra face wash that I didn’t know I had! I really love using a solid stick cleanser, because it’s concentrated, not shipping water & a clean product. Not to mention the product packaging is fully recyclable, making it zero waste. Here is the one I use. The other cleansers I found I received as gifts or samples. I keep other cleansers in my assortment for visitors that stay with me. For the shower, the stick cleanser I like doesn’t go well there since I apply it to dry skin, so I opt for a facial bar cleanser and keep it next to my body bar.

  • Keep New Product In Its Packaging: If you have the space to keep the outer packaging on a product before needing it, keep it sealed up. Tight for space? Buy a fun tape and mark new product with the tape so you know not to reach for it until you use something else up. I tend to have multiple moisturizers open, because here in New York City the weather is different each and every day. However, something like a vitamin c serum, there is no reason for having multiple open. It’s also important to note that keeping a product sealed allows it to keep fresher longer- just like with food. Once the product is opened, it is recommended to use it within the period-after-opening (PAO) window.

  • Make Zero-Waste Swaps: One of my favorite zero waste swaps I made in the last two years, was purchasing bamboo pads, which I use every morning and night with my toner in place of cotton balls. There are quite a few on Amazon for under $20 if you search it, but you can also support small business and shop at Package Free Shop here. I have a few cotton swabs, but I actually don’t use them! I’m not sure when I purchased them, but they’re there! After learning cotton swabs shouldn’t be used to clean your ears (I know I was surprised too if this is your first time hearing of this) I stopped altogether. Turns out, your body regulates your ear wax just fine! If you’re looking for an alternative to single-use cotton swabs, here is one! Why make the switch? Aside from the packaging waste generated with “cotton” balls and “cotton” swabs, most of these “cotton” items are actually made with synthetic fibers. They aren’t 100% biodegradable, so it’s not just about that packaging waste. The bamboo pads also absorb less product, so you’re wasting less of your product too!

  • Pass Along Product: If you receive a product that you know you aren’t going to use, you can pass it along to a friend, family or donate the product! A lot of local women’s shelters will happily take new, unused cosmetics and personal care products. If you tried and product and don’t like it, sanitize it (if you can) and pass it along to someone that’s close to you. Don’t try to resell used cosmetic products. If you don’t have someone to pass it along to, reference our disposal guidelines.

Ready for the next step? Phase Two: The Cleaning

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