Don't Even Think About Throwing Out Old Beauty Products Before Doing This

Chances are you have a recycling bin somewhere in your home for cans, bottles, and other plastic waste, but what do you do with your old beauty products? These items account for a staggering portion of the trash created around the globe. In fact, Euromonitor International reported that in 2018, nearly 7.9 billion units of rigid plastic were used for cosmetics and personal care products in the U.S. alone (via Allure). Yikes.

But, luckily, there are lots of ways to reduce the amount of beauty waste you create. Not only are companies beginning to incorporate more sustainable practices, but there are a variety of options for recycling your products, which means you don't have to toss them in the trash. Plus, more and more beauty products are being packaged in glass and metal, which are more likely to be recycled and are more gentle on the environment.

As reported by Popular Science, plastics photodegrade rather than biodegrade — essentially, they can't be broken down by bacteria or other living organisms. Sadly, plastic never fully degrades, no matter how many tiny pieces it gets broken down into. Yes, however many tubes of lipstick are on the planet now will, in some way, always be here.

Here's how to recycle your old beauty products

First, it's important to know which of your beauty products are eligible for recycling. Danielle Jezienicki, the director of sustainability for Grove Collaborative, told PureWow that you should look for the recycling symbol (aka Möbius loop) on the packaging. "If the loop has a number 1 or 2 on it, the item can be picked up through most curbside recycling programs," she told the outlet. You can also check sites like to see what the specific guidelines and requirements are in your area.

Next, consider the components of your products. Stephen Clarke, head of communications at TerraCycle Europe, told Marie Claire that items with mirrored glass, cardboard sleeves, expanded plastic foam, and paper inserts are all common components of beauty products, making them harder to recycle. Sprayers, droppers, and pumps are also often not recyclable.

Thankfully, some beauty brands, including Mac, have begun offering their own recycling programs, and some of them will even reward you for bringing in your empty lipstick tubes or foundation bottles. With more companies launching seemingly every minute, it's more important than ever to properly recycle makeup and other beauty products that will otherwise inevitably end up in landfills. Of course, the most sustainable choice is to reduce the amount of products you purchase and consume. But, let's be honest, that's not always the most realistic option.