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These Beauty Brands Recycle Your Empties (And Reward You For It)

Win for you; win for the environment.
A pretty genius idea for reusing beauty empties. Photo: @lushcosmetics/Instagram

A pretty genius idea for reusing beauty empties. Photo: @lushcosmetics/Instagram

Welcome to Sustainability Week! While Fashionista covers sustainability news and eco-friendly brands all year round, we wanted to use this time around Earth Day and the anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse as a reminder to focus on the impact that the fashion industry has on people and the planet.

Remember that old rule you learned in elementary school on Earth Day? Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (in that order!) still holds true, and your beauty collection is a great place to focus those energies. So first, KonMari your routine. (Whitney put together a handy guide for donating fashion and beauty items you haven't used, check it out!) Then, consider repurposing your empty jars into planters, as in the photo above, or your empty Diptyque candle holders into makeup brush storage, à la every single person on Instagram. And finally, recycle all of those empties! The good news is that it's pretty much never been easier to do so, and there are plenty of beauty brands that will help you (and even reward your efforts).

"Recycling beauty products at home can get a bit tricky at times, especially when it comes to certain products we use every day," says Sophia Gushee, a "detoxing" expert who is also the author of "A to Z of D-Toxing." "Bottles for shampoo and detergent are considered 'high-density polyethylene' and are generally regarded as safe to recycle at your local facility. However, nail polish is known for its toxic qualities and harmful chemicals, so disposing of it is not as easy as just tossing it away in the trash or recycling bin." Gushee recommends seeking out your local household hazardous waste facility to make sure you're handling it in the most environmentally responsible way. "Aerosol cans are another common item that can lead us to question how to go about recycling. If the can is empty, it can easily be recycled in the designated steel or aluminum section at your local facility. However, if there are still contents in the can, it would be best to bring this to the household hazardous waste facility as well," she says.

As beauty brands have become more aware of the industry's environmental footprint, plenty of companies have come up with creative incentive programs that help make the entire recycling process easy (and even rewarding, by offering free products or discounts in return). So the next time you have an empty bottle, sure, snap an Eva Chen-inspired empties photo and post a mini-review on Instagram. And then get to recycling. Below, find nine beauty brands that offer recycling programs you need to know about.


Aveda has teamed up with g2 Revolution, a recycling company, to allow customers to bring in any packaging and accessories from Aveda products to its stores. The packaging (or notoriously difficult-to-recycle pumps and brushes) they collect are then recycled, reused or burned for energy recovery.

For more info, visit or contact


Bring back five empty Lush pots to any Lush store for recycling and receive a free face mask.

For more info, visit

Le Labo
Bring your empty Le Labo bottle back to a store for a refill and to receive 20 percent off.

For more info, visit


For each empty, full-size container you bring in for recycling to a Kiehl's store, you'll receive one stamp. Once you've racked up 10 stamps, you'll receive a free travel-size Kiehl's product.

For more info, visit

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Origins accepts product packaging from any brand in its stores and was actually one of the first beauty companies to create a recycling program for cosmetics packaging in 2009.

For more info, visit


When customers return six MAC primary packaging containers to one of the brand's counters, stores or online for recycling, they'll receive a free MAC lipstick of their choice.

For more info, visit


Garnier partnered with TerraCycle for a recycling program that allows people to send back their empties — including shampoo caps, conditioner caps, hair gel tubes and caps and hair spray triggers — with free shipping.

For more info, visit


New York City-based nail salon Tenoverten partners with a chemical recycling and disposal company called Chemwise to purchase recycling kits that they then fill with nail polish bottles that can no longer be used. Chemwise recycles both the actual leftover nail polish and components of the bottle, such as the glass and plastic caps and brushes. They store the polish in temperature-controlled storage facilities and then aggregate it into large batches of paint used to paint industrial equipment so that it doesn't just get wasted or end up in our water systems. Customers are also welcome to bring old polish bottles of any brand that they have at home to any of the six salon locations for recycling.


For those on the West Coast, Los Angeles-based nail salon Côte participates in a similar nail polish recycling program. The salon works with an environmental services company to recycle nail polish bottles, and customers can receive 10 percent off their next Côte nail polish purchase by bringing in any used bottle of polish into the shop.

For more info, visit

Lilah B

Minimalist makeup brand Lilah B is all about reducing clutter and streamlining your beauty routine. With every package, the company includes a prepaid shipping label, allowing customers to send back their old beauty products from any brand. Then, the brand's recycling partner handles the rest to make sure all of the products are recycled effectively.

For more info, visit

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