How to recycle your beauty products – the ultimate guide

can your makeup be recycled?

Recycling is one of the biggest nightmares in the 50Sense household. I hate the idea of animals suffering after eating plastic on landfill so I try to recycle everything. But then Mr 50Sense go through it and chucks pieces out. And that inevitably leads to an argument as I argue they should be recyclable and he says they aren’t.

Someday – soon, please – everything will be recyclable. But until then, you can’t throw things in the recycling bin willy-nilly. Put the wrong item in your bin and the whole lot could end up on landfill. Worse case scenario and everything that’s in the lorry could end up there.

I find beauty products to be some of the most difficult items when it comes to knowing which bin to use. Quite often they’re a mix of glass, metal and plastic, so which part goes where? And what to do with make-up wipes?

So here’s a handy guide to what you can recycle and what you can’t…

What should be recyclable but isn’t

Mirrors Obvious, right? It’s glass therefore in the recycling. If only… A reflective coating is used on the back of beauty product mirrors and this means that when the glass is crushed for recycling, the paint gets mixed in, too. It’s practically unusable.

Pumps It’s a word that still makes me giggle, but when it comes to recycling, pumps are no laughing matter. There’s almost no chance that the pump in your bottle is recyclable – something that wiped the smile off my face. You have to remove the pump from your bottle of foundations, primers, serums, shampoos and fake tan to make it recyclable.

Magnets That lovely feeling when your compact snaps shut is down to magnets. Which aren’t recyclable. So if you want to be green and beautiful, take the magnet out before recycling your compact.

Brushes and applicators If the pumps made you do a double take, this one will blow your mind. Your brushes and applicators are made of lots of teeny-weeny non-recyclable parts.

Nail varnish bottles All those toxins mean the bottle is not recyclable, no matter how much you clean it. (I’m now regretting my vast collection upstairs… Pretty nails are not worth it.)

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How to recycle your beauty products

Check before you chuck. There’ll be a recycling symbol on your bottle or packaging to tell you what to do. I know, I know, they’re complicated. So I’ve found a handy video to help…

Wash before you throw. Some recycling centres refuse to take dirty items as they may contain residue that can contaminate the whole batch. Not only that, but it’s nicer for the people who are handing your unwanteds, too.

Don’t bag it up. There’s no need for plastic bags. Simply place your recyclables loose into the bin.

How you can recycle more

Use your unwanted products to help other people. A friend sent me this on Facebook recently.

Give and makeup and smalls for alls

The top address is where you can send unwanted or lightly-used beauty products and toiletries (things you would pass on to a friend). They then distribute them to women in refuges, women who have escaped abusive relationships, for example. Smalls for All give underwear to women and children in Africa. (You have less chance of being raped if you’re wearing a bra as it is seen as a sign of wealth.)

Make sure you follow your local council’s recycling policy. Some councils can’t deal with some types of plastic or complex materials.

Check to see if your favourite brand have their own recycling or exchange scheme. If they don’t, drop them an email to ask why not – and what their plans are for going green. Looking drop-dead wonderful shouldn’t cost the earth.

Pass the joy on. We have a charity shop that accepts electrical goods in working order (or with a minor fault that they can fix). Several of our old pieces have gone there. If it’s in a good condition, you could also resell it.

Invest on a reusable. We spend a fortune on tiny little products that are adding to landfill. Instead of creating more waste, invest in something that will last, such as a Clarisonic facial cleanser. You’ll not only be doing your skin more good that dragging a scratchy wipe over it (yes, I know we love them – but they’re not good for you or the planet) but you’ll also stop clogging up the earth.

Go to a recycling centre. If you have electricals, take them to your nearest recycling centre. Several electrical stores such as Currys PC World will also accept them. (That’s where I took my beloved hairdryer from Madrid when it went to the giant hair salon in the sky.)

What are your top recycling tips? Let me know in the comments below. And many thanks to CurrentBody for their help.

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