As we are discovering the impact of our massive amounts of garbage headed to the landfill, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed. For many people, it gets to a point where they feel their impact as one person means so little that there is no point in even trying to make changes. I can understand that.
With people coming forward with great solutions, it has never been a better or easier time to think eco and feel like we are making some good traction. Small efforts can add up. People are coming together to make real change, and we are all learning new practices together. What a fun time to join the green side!
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
– Maya Angelou
So, where do you start?
At the beginning! When you are purchasing a personal care product, ask yourself:
- Can the packaging be managed by your municipal recycle program?
- Does the brand offer a trade in, refill or recycle program?
- Is it in an excessive amount of unnecessary packaging?
- Did you finish your previous product like this? Is it something you will use?
- Does it have multiple purposes that could replace more than one product?
You are now going home your carefully selected product! Congrats on making a conscious choice!
Should I start with a clean slate?
Let’s deal with the products and packaging from previous purchases as we use them up. It’s simply not sustainable or responsible to do a purge and toss in order to start with a clean slate. Of course you will want to dispose of expired products, or ones that you are allergic to, in an eco-sensitive way.
Let’s get our hands dirty!
I won’t lie, this part is not fun, and it is easy to contemplate how tossing waste in the trash would be easier. However once you make it a habit, there will be nothing to it. Here are some best practices to help.
Clean the containers
I know there are some that seem practically impossible to clean. Scrape out and dispose of products. Currently cosmetics are not considered as hazardous waste (with a few clear exceptions, they are labelled clearly), so garbage is currently our only option for disposal. Refrain from dumping excess amounts down drains and toilets.
Tubes, especially ones containing thick products like lip color, mascara and complexion makeup, can be a real challenge to get clean – do you best. Ensure the containers are dried to prevent mold.
This part is really important. Some packages have different components. For example, lids, nozzles, mirrors and pumps need to be handled differently than bottles or tubes. Take time to separate out all the components and then sort them by like kind. Once they’re sorted, start eliminating piles.
Determine what is remaining
I won’t lie, this part kind of sucks because we are looking at the items that have no waste stream to manage them in an earth friendly way. That’s ok! Something important has happened: you now have a much better understanding of what you are going to look for with future packaging.
Bring your recycling to depots/service providers regularly
This prevents your recyclables from piling up and becoming a nuisance, which can lead to moments of weakness – don’t give into the temptation putting them out on the curb just to get them out of your hair in a moment of frustration.
What about Hazardous Waste?
Dealing with hazardous materials first means you need to know how to identify them. The best way to know? Look for the symbols on the container – the ones that show bones and explosions mean they are hazardous and need to be handled by professionals. NEVER send them to the landfill or through a recycling program/service.
Conclusion – it’s worth it!
Learning new habits can be tough, but if you start where you can and remember small changes can have huge impacts. When we are all making these changes together, the result will positively change the world as we know it.