Keeping Your Skincare Products Away From The Landfill

By Charity

  • Knowledge about the different packaging materials and how to recycle them can help us weave convenience and sustainability into one even when it comes to skincare products
  • Read on for what to look for in packaging and what you can do for the environment when selecting skincare products!

I LOVE PACKAGING. My eyes are always drawn to products that demonstrate a lot of thought was put into the look and feel of it. Great packaging signals to consumers that the product inside is valuable, to be desired and maybe even the best version out there just because of the way it looks!

For skincare and beauty brands, the relationship between us and the product is EVERYTHING. The packaging itself has to be functional. It has to feel good. It has to lure us in through the eyes. And let’s face it - for an everyday routine of beauty practices, we need the products that we use to be convenient. 

But can convenience and sustainability coexist? You might think that they are at odds with each other. Brands aren’t exactly trying to bring these two things together - unless we as consumers demand it from them. I believe these two things can coexist - knowledge about the different packaging materials and how to recycle them can help us weave convenience and sustainability into one.

Plastic is durable and great for packaging skincare products. This is why skin and beauty shelves are filled with plastics. There is a lot of plastic already in circulation, and unfortunately it is infiltrating our water systems.

I find it very encouraging when products use recycled plastics or less plastics for packaging. At the end of the product’s life, rinsing out the container and recycling it according to the proper resin code extends its life and reduces the introduction of new plastics in circulation. 

How do you know whether the container holding your product is recyclable? Look for a number inside a triangle - if specified, it can usually be found on the bottom of the container. The number explains what type of resin the plastic came from. The number also helps us understand which plastics are more recyclable than others.

Generally speaking, the resin codes 1 and 2 can be immediately recycled in the curbside bin. You’ll want to check the rules of your local recycling center to understand how to properly recycle anything with a code between 3 and 7. The higher the number, the more difficult it is to recycle the resin. To make recycling convenient, stick with products in containers that have the resin code 1 or 2. The less resin between 3 and 7 in circulation, the healthier and happier our bodies and the ocean will be!

Skincare products are also packaged in glass or metal containers. Both materials are excellent because they are high in recyclability and retain the purity of the product better than plastics.

The downside to glass, specifically, is the amount of energy consumption it takes to produce. This means that products in glass containers tend to cost more than those packaged in plastic containers. I personally think that the extra cost is worth it because there is no complicated recycling matrix like there is with plastics. Glass and metal can generally be recycled without too much thought. Just rinse out the container and drop it in your recycling bin.

Take some time to pay attention to the outer box packaging when purchasing skincare products too.  Brands that use recycled paper and environmental inks are taking a positive step. 

Another way to consider skipping the landfill is to repurpose the bottles and containers themselves. This is especially relevant if you dabble in DIY projects like me! I will wash out old glass and even some plastic containers to repurpose them for various DIY products I make for my hair and skin.

Being intentional upfront when selecting your skincare products can help achieve sustainable action in a convenient way.