The following is an "Ask the Experts" post from Earth911.com, prepared for TDG.
When was the last time you cleaned out your makeup bag or medicine cabinet? Besides eyeliner pencil shavings and (eek!) nail polish stains, you may find expired and usable items at the bottom of the bag. Cosmetics have a shelf life, but you don't have to toss them once they're spent. That half-empty rosy blush compact or smushed lipstick tube can actually be recycled.
According to Origins, everyday packaging accounts for about one-third of all landfill waste. Cosmetic containers are usually made from plastic #5, or polypropylene. Similar in chemical make-up to plastic #3, this plastic resin is commonly found in everyday products like yogurt cups and bottle caps, but it is often left out of curbside recycling programs.
However, for cosmetic containers and bottle caps, there are several options for drop-off recycling. (Gentlemen, we're talking to you, too! Don't forget about those jars of aftershave.)
Origins retail stores accept empty cosmetics tubes, bottles and jars for recycling - regardless of the brand. Bonus points: Origins will give you a free sample of its high-performance skincare products in return.
Another option is the Back to M.A.C program, which accepts its own brand of cosmetic packaging for recycling. Simply take your containers to any M.A.C department store counter and receive a free lipstick for your contribution.
Finally, Aveda is a great option to recycle your bottle caps. The retailer's recycling initiative accepts twist-on caps from shampoo, water, soda, milk and other beverage bottles; flip-top caps on tubes and food product bottles (such as ketchup and mayonnaise), as well as laundry detergents and some jar lids such as peanut butter.
Not sure if it's time to throw it out? The average lifespan for your cosmetics is 1-2 years, give or take depending on the product. However, the general rule-of-thumb to always abide by is the odor test: if it smells, toss it!
To find local recycling centers for plastic #5, check out Earth911.com.
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