Beauty Trash Talk: How to dispose of your empties

I have another weird confession to make: I’ve held on to practically every beauty empty I’ve accumulated in the past two years.

Maybe I’ll need to take a photo of it later. Maybe I’ll need to revisit the ingredients or instructions. I have to compare this with newer products for research. I want to share about my empties on Instagram. This packaging is too pretty for the bin. In the past, I’ve always found an excuse to keep holding on to my trash. But enough is enough!

 They may look pretty but really, they're just empty boxes

They may look pretty but really, they're just empty boxes

The clutter has gotten so bad over the past month that I finally made the decision to let go and free up some space. I felt guilty just chucking them up to the bin and contributing to an already massive waste problem so I decided to look into better ways for dealing with my empties.

 Stacked Althea boxes allow for more storage while saving on space

Stacked Althea boxes allow for more storage while saving on space

Reuse and Repurpose

If you often shop online, you’d know how much shipping waste can accumulate. When opening packages, I make it a point not to tear through the bubble wrap as much as possible. I clean them up and keep them aside for when I need to ship items out to friends.

 This repurposed Naruko sheet mask box was shared by Angelica Jane Aquino on the Project Vanity Community Facebook group

This repurposed Naruko sheet mask box was shared by Angelica Jane Aquino on the Project Vanity Community Facebook group

Sturdy shipping boxes make for great storage materials. I keep my old Althea boxes in my vanity to store sheet masks and other makeup products. Some brands even provide instructions on how to reuse their boxes, like these sheet mask boxes turned makeup drawers! You can also find a ton of DIY projects on Pinterest for transforming box packaging into storage materials.

Exchange an Empty for a Sample or Discount

The Shiseido Beauty Exchange lets you earn gift checks in exchange for your empties. You can get a P500 GC for every used or empty bottle of any brand of makeup and facial skincare product for the whole month of April. There’s no minimum purchase but only one gift check can be used for every transaction.

Local brand V&M has a permanent promotion for empties that they started this April. For every returned empty container of V&M products, you’ll get a P5 discount on your next purchase.

These are past promotions, but keep your eyes peeled on brands' social media as they do repeat these promos often. The Body Shop lets you exchange your empties of old moisturizers or sunscreens from any brand for 50% off on certain products. On the other hand, Benefit’s Brow Blowout allows you to claim one sample of their bestselling brow collection in exchange for an empty eyebrow product from any brand.

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Recycle through Environmental Organizations or your Local Junkshop

April is Earth Month, and Origins has partnered with The Plastic Solution to give customers skincare samples in exchange for ecobricks. You can fill up your empty beauty bottles with other plastic waste to create an ecobrick, which you can learn more about here. Even after the Earth Month, The Plastic Solution and Green Antz will accept your donations.

You can also take it the traditional route and go to your local junkshop like I did. I categorized my empties into cardboard boxes, glass, and soft and hard plastics. In the end, I was only able to sell the ones on the right for P10. The going rate was P2 per kilo of carton, and P14 per kilo of plastic. Rates and what they’d accept would of course vary per junkshop. It’s not much, but I’m at peace that I’ve saved landfill workers some man hours by segregating recyclable trash by myself.

Seeing my empties accumulate for the past two years was a beauty dream turned into an environmental nightmare. This became an eye opener for me to reuse and recycle when I can, but I truly believe reduction is still key in the end. Note to my fellow PV girls and to myself most especially: stop buying shit you don’t need.

While completely eliminating waste in our lifestyle can be a difficult feat, committing to baby steps both in beauty and non-beauty aspects of our lives is a worthwhile advocacy to pursue. Refuse the plastic straw, refuse single use plastics, bring an eco-bag while shopping, and avoid takeouts when you can. In beauty, buy products in larger volumes and maximize refill options if your budget allows you to.

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of social media buzz regarding package-free products from brands like Lush and Got Heart PH. I’ve yet to research the ingredients of the products themselves but the move to offer package-free soaps, shampoos, and conditioners is worthy of applause.

Do you know any more ways to recycle your empties? We definitely want to hear them!