Recently, I’ve started helping people clean out their pantries and closets. I’ve been partnering with multiple charities in my hometown to donate good, usable items after I do a clean out. Much of the clothing and food items are not fit for donation, however, and must be disposed of environmentally. Fortunately, most food items can be composted, but I’m still brainstorming ways to upcycle the packaging. Clothes, on the other hand, pose a different problem because there’s so much to deal with and charities can only take so much. I’ve started coming up with ways to upcycle the old clothes, and now I’m ready to move on to the next category of household items: toiletries.
I love helping people do bathroom cleanouts. It’s easy to accumulate a variety of lotions, medications, and cosmetics that never get used. Oftentimes, there’s a surplus of half-used shampoo bottles and other toiletry items that just take up space. Unfortunately, opened containers cannot be donated, so what do we do with them? And how do we live the greenest life possible when it comes to hygiene and beauty products?
Step 1: Do an Assessment
This is where I come in. I love doing a deep clean of people’s bathrooms. I remove every single item and thoroughly clean every surface, but before we put all the products back, it’s important to get an inventory. How many duplicate items are there? How many unused or unwanted soaps, lotions, and other products can be removed? Cleaning out the bathroom and discarding duplicates and unwanted items will make future cleanings much easier.
Step 2: Commit to Products
For the products you intend on keeping, try to use up as much as you can. Sometimes I’m itching to start a new facecare routine before I’ve finished up the last of my current one. I’m trying to avoid this nowadays. I also try to avoid buying additional soaps or shampoos until I’ve used up the last of the one I currently have. I’m not a huge advocate for scrapping your current products in order to buy the newest eco-friendly brand. The greenest product is the one you didn’t purchase. Green living shouldn’t cost money, after all. It should save you money. So use up those beauty products and recycle whatever packaging you can.
Step 3: Donate or Give Away
Most charities will not accept opened hygiene products, so what do we do with them? Expired items should not be used or given away as they can harbor bacteria. This includes most make up products and certain lotions. Others can be sanitized and given away for free. Old containers can be upcycled, but make sure to thoroughly clean them. I like to use old make up for art projects, and I’ve found most people are happy to take free lotions, soaps, and other toiletries. There are some organizations that accept used beauty products such as Beauty Bus and Dress for Success and others.
Step 4: Shop Green
When the time comes to buy new beauty products opt for the eco-friendly brands. How can we know if a beauty product is eco-friendly or not? There are a few guidelines to consider:
- they use limited or recycled packaging (shampoo bars, toothpaste tables etc.)
- they avoid toxic ingredients (microbeads, phosphates, parabens, fragrances, and more)
- they are certified sustainable, cruelty-free, and organic (here’s a list)
- they avoid plastics (opt for bamboo toothbrushes and biodegradable cotton swaps, etc.)
This ultimate guide to eco-friendly toiletries can give you a good place to start:
Step 5: DIY
Did you know you can make your own beauty products? Doing so will drastically reduce the cost of transportation, manufacturing, and packaging. DIY beauty products are often healthier due to the lack of chemicals and preservatives. Here are some great recipes you could try!
For more green living tips to take with you to the bathroom, check out these helpful resources!
My next challenge will be finding ways to upcycle packaging that can’t be recycled. I hope to see you there!