If you’ve ever hesitated over whether to trash or recycle an empty bottle of lotion, you’re not alone: a recent survey found that more than half of Americans don’t think they know how to recycle the right way. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency says only 32% of recyclable waste actually gets recycled. (What a waste—literally!) We want to do our part to change that with the products we make and the info we share—so that you can do your part too. Here’s how to recycle your beauty products and make an eco impact, one bottle, jar, or tube at a time.
Get to Know Your Community Guidelines
There isn’t a universal cheat sheet to follow because what can—and can’t—get recycled curbside depends on where you live. Your best bet is to check with your county or township. Or check out Keep America Beautiful— it has a handy search tool that lets you enter your zip code to find your local guidelines.
Give Your Containers a Good Rinse
This is a biggie that often gets overlooked. The more leftover product there is in your container, the more likely it is to end up in a landfill. Having trouble rinsing the residue? Try pouring hot water into the container to whisk it away. Also, do your best to remove any labels, including the adhesive—it can make processing more difficult.
How to Recycle Glass and Aluminum
Generally speaking, glass and aluminum are easily and endlessly recycled. Tinted glass, however, can be trickier. Since some municipalities only handle the clear kind, you’ll need to refer to your community guidelines.
How to Recycle Plastic Containers
There are important clues on the side or bottom of your plastic containers. First, you might notice a small circle with arrows inside—this means that instead of using virgin plastic, which puts immense pressure on the environment, the packaging is made from recycled materials. That’s why all of our bottles are 100% PCR—post-consumer recycled.
Just because a product is recycled, however, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s recyclable. For that you need to look for a triangle on the packaging, known as the Mobius loop. There should be a number inside the triangle indicating the type of plastic, 1-7. If you see a number 1, known as PET, or 2, which refers to HDPE, good news: these plastics are the most widely recyclable via curbside programs. If there’s a number 3-7, it’ll come down to your local guidelines.
Sometimes, though, you’ll see more than one number. For example, it could give you numbers for the lid and the tub. If they’re made from the same materials, then recycle them together by placing the lid on the tub before it goes into the blue bin. If they’re not? Well, that leads us right to...
What About Lids, Caps, and Pumps?
Oftentimes, the smaller parts of beauty packaging aren’t easily recycled curbside. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be recycled. Programs like TerraCycle partner with brands— including us!—to make it happen. Simply request a shipping label here, and then mail the parts to TerraCycle. They’ll recycle the plastic to give it new life.
The Upside of Upcycling
Whether a product is recyclable or not, you can always repurpose it with upcycling. That empty jar of body scrub? Use it to stash reusable cotton pads. Your empty lip balm tin can sub in for a ring holder, a used candle makes for a succulent planter, and a bottle of any sort can be a vase. If you want to get fancy, you can use peel-and-stick, patterned contact paper to give the container a design-forward finish.