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  • Writer's pictureMeredith Holland

How to Properly Dispose of Old Cosmetics Packaging

Your cosmetics may look good on you, but they sure don’t look good on the planet...especially when these products aren’t disposed of properly. Tossing your old cosmetics into the trash is more harmful to the environment than you may think. Most mainstream cosmetics are ridden with toxic chemicals that eventually make their way into our soil and oceans, destroying natural ecosystems and wildlife.

The next time you find yourself cleaning out your half-used, unopened, or 2+ year old products from your stash under the bathroom sink or lined up in your shower, follow these tips for proper disposal of the contents and recycling of their containers.

1. The first step is to go through and get rid of any products that are older than a year or two. To better understand the shelf-life of your beauty products, check out this blog post.

2. Grab an old jar (reuse an old pasta sauce or salsa jar) with a sealable lid.

3. Empty any leftover product into the jar.

4. Seal jar tight! This ensures that chemicals from the products don’t seep out into the trash.

5. Throw sealed jar into the trash.

6. Wash containers/packaging clean, making sure they’re free of any product.

7. Check your local municipality website to see what plastics they recycle or go to to take part in one of their beauty recycling programs!


TerraCycle is a recycling platform that collects hard-to-recycle items or those that typically cannot be recycled in curbside or local municipality recycling. It has many different recycling programs, some of which are dedicated to recycling beauty and cosmetics packaging and containers. This can be done either by utilizing their listed local drop-off centers or by downloading their free shipping label and sending your packaging in to be recycled.

TerraCycle has a national program in partnership with Nordstrom for all brands of beauty and skincare product packaging. Under the ‘Nordstrom BEAUTYCYCLE’ program, you can drop off your packaging at select Nordstrom stores which can be found by searching on their interactive map. Packaging from all brands of cosmetics, skin and hair care can also be recycled for free through the ‘Personal Care and Beauty Recycling Program’ that TerraCycle has created in partnership with Garnier. You can recycle from home by joining the program and downloading a free shipping label to ship your containers out.

If the Garnier program is temporarily full or there isn’t a local Nordstrom drop-off center near you, you can purchase a beauty products and packaging zero waste pouch to send in your packaging. To check out the other beauty and cosmetics recycling programs TerraCycle has with individual brands, click here.

Behind being more mindful of how much we consume overall, the next best thing for our environment is to ensure that your personal care and beauty products are disposed of properly at the end of their life. After all, we want to keep the planet looking as good as you do ;)



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