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5 Simple Tips For Using Your Beauty Empties To End The Waste Cycle

Image by Jodie Johnson / Stocksy
February 21, 2019

It's now abundantly clear that the planet needs our help, but sometimes figuring out how to actually get involved can seem daunting. The thing is, you don't have to switch to exclusively using solar energy or start eating vegan full-time to make a difference.

Instead, start small: One easy way is just supporting companies with sustainable practices, like Burt's Bees, which committed to make their packaging as recyclable as possible and made moves to trim as much as 50 percent of the packaging from some of their products. Not to mention they've achieved Carbon Neutral certification and set a facility-wide policy to send zero waste to landfills (#goals). Aside from getting intentional about where your everyday dollars go, think about daily efforts like upcycling and reusing your empty beauty and skin care containers to lower your carbon footprint. You'll help make a real impact on landfill waste and save yourself a few bucks, too.

If you're in need of some inspiration, these five tips and tricks are a great place to start. One less thing in the trash, one less thing to have to order online. That's a win all around. 


Turn your empty perfume bottle into an essential oil diffuser. 

While glass used for food and drink containers is endlessly recyclable (meaning it can be recycled over and over again), other types of glass don't necessarily qualify. Instead of trying to read the tiny symbols on the bottom of your perfume, keep the bottle to help turn your home into a calming oasis. Just clean it out, pick your favorite essential oils, and pop some diffuser sticks into that empty bottle. Check out our sustainability editor's favorites for focus, energy, and relaxation.

 You can even use an empty face-mist bottle to dilute essential oils in distilled water for a linen spray—perfect for winding down at the end of the day. 


 Use your empty face cream jar as a travel toiletry container.

Many cream and serum jars use Plastic #1, which is Polyethylene terephthalate (PETE or PET), or Plastic #2, which is high-density polyethylene (HDPE). These types of plastic are known as safe overall with a low risk of leaching (though you should keep them away from heat), so there's no reason not to give them new life. Try filling TSA-friendly-size bottles with shampoo or sunscreen for your next getaway—it's way smarter than throwing money at those travel-size products that you'll like abandon in the hotel bathroom at the end of the trip, anyway.

Bonus travel hack: On shorter trips, one of our favorite space-efficient tips is using spare contact lens cases (the extra ones you get when you buy contact lens solution) to hold just the right amount of everything from moisturizer to night serum to supplements. 

Image by Michelle Patrick Photography LLC / iStock

Use your Burt's Bees lip balm tube to hold bobby pins.

It's no surprise that a tube of Burt's Bees lip balm is sold every second—it has natural ingredients like coconut oil and beeswax to keep your lips smooth and chap-free. The tube itself is made from polypropylene, also known as Plastic #5 and abbreviated as PP. It's totally recyclable, but that doesn't mean you have to toss it right away. Keep a bundle of bobby pins tucked neatly inside so they're easily accessible next time you have a hair emergency. It's way easier than hunting around in the bottom of your bag or makeup drawer; that's for sure.


Make your lip gloss tube and applicator a no-mess crafts project for your kids.

If you have little ones running around, you know that somehow their hands always seem to get ahold of household items that aren't meant for them. Let them play with your makeup on your terms by rinsing out your old lip gloss and filling the tube with washable, nontoxic paint that's safe for kids—then allow them to use the applicator to create "masterpieces." They'll have fun pretending they're Mommy, and you'll have fun knowing they're not actually wasting that expensive makeup. Plus, the wands are designed for quantity control, so there won't be paint splattered on the walls no matter how much they fling it around.


Keep loose change in an empty deodorant.

Whether you go with a traditional deodorant or a more natural variety is up to you, but regardless, you'll hit the bottom at some point. The brands vary, but most deodorant containers are made from Plastic #2, Plastic #5, or Plastic #4, which is low-density polyethylene (LDPE)—but it's all the different parts to a deodorant tube that make recycling it a bit tricky.

In other words, there are a few extra steps to take to avoid tossing the wrong materials into the bin—aka recycling contamination. A super-simple way to repurpose it? Pull out the plastic center from the stick, and you'll have a perfectly sized change container to toss in your purse or the center console of your car. Because you can never find a quarter when you actually need it, right?

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