Go green beauty routine

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As I strive to be as earth-friendly as possible in my everyday life, it recently occurred to me that my beauty routine has not been as green as it could be. So, I set out to find out how to recycle rather than discard my used-up cosmetics. I spoke with Solid Waste Administrative Assistant Terry Gellenbeck with the City of Phoenix Public Works Department. He gave me some great information with a few surprises to boot!

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Go green beauty routine - As I strive to be as earth-friendly as possible in my everyday life, it recently occurred to me that my beauty routine has not been as green as it could be. So, I set out to find out how to recycle rather than discard my used-up cosmetics.

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I also set out to discover which beauty brands are environmentally-friendly. Here are some ideas for a beauty routine.

Recycling: Basic Blue Bin Rules

When it comes to filling up your blue recycling bin, there are some basic rules that must be followed concerning beauty containers.

Let's start with the basic box that houses your favorite beauty items. A lot of cosmetic products come in pretty packaging, but some of that gloss means a loss when it comes to going green. If the box has a plastic covering exposing the product like so many do, it cannot be recycled. However, if the box is a basic box, then go ahead and toss in your blue trash container. So, start with step one and don't forget to recycle the box that your favorite brand comes in. Once the box is discarded into your recycling pile, then you can focus on the bottle inside.

Tons of cosmetic lotions and potions come in plastic containers and I thought that was good green news. However, you must look at the code on the bottom of the bottle and if it does not have a 1 or 2, then it is trash that can't be recycled. So, when shopping for your products, check the bottom of the bottle for the green go signal, the magic numbers of 1 or 2. Plus the product must be cleaned out of the jar or it may not get recycled.

Another idea is to look for glass jars of creams and cosmetics because most types of glass can be recycled. However, the City of Phoenix Public Works department tells me that the glass jar must be wiped clean or it may be redistributed to trash when it hits the recycling plant.

Terry told me something that surprised me! Aerosol bottles like hair spray and shaving cream can be recycled right along with hair spray pumps, too. Since these bottles tend to be made of steel, the blue bin welcomes these products. Good news that I hadn't considered. No more shaving cream cans in my green trash bin!

Unfortunately, mascara, lipstick and cosmetic pencils can not be recycled. And even though nail polish comes in a glass bottle, the chemicals in the color are too toxic for recycling, even if you clean out the jar. In fact, the City of Phoenix doesn't want to see the polish bottle in the green trash bin, either. Save your discarded nail polish for the monthly household hazardous waste drop off. Scheduled drop dates and guidelines can be found at http://phoenix.gov/GARBAGE/bopa.html or call 602-262-7251 to get directions to the site nearest you. Terry also told me about a very useful website that has for the different Arizona cities and towns.

Beyond-the-Blue-Bin Beauty Brands

Since there are so many types of cosmetics that are not recyclable, I have found a couple of brands that buck the trash trend with creative ways to keep the containers out of the landfill. Several companies have taken the initiative to create reusable packaging. Others have implemented a plan that lets you return your used container so that the company can then recycle internally. Kudos to those companies. Here is who is going green with golden plans:

MAC Makeup: Called their "Back to MAC" program, the company goes green and they also give customers an incentive to boot. For every six MAC primary packaging containers returned to a MAC counter or MAC Cosmetics online, consumers receive a free MAC lipstick of their choice. And this is a top notch makeup line that professional makeup artist Karen Hall uses on her celebrity clients.

Burt's Bees: Burt's Bees is doing their part to make your beauty routine green by including recycling instructions right on the container. For example, this Burt's Bees Deodorant container says right on the side of the bottle to recycle with your aluminum cans. Visit the company website at www.burtsbees.com to learn more. The site says that by 2020, all of their product packaging will be 100% biodegradable. That is a great goal!

Another interesting tidbit on the site says that the Burt's Bees new lip balm and lip shimmer packaging labels are now shrink wrap free. In just one year this change has eliminated 1800 miles of shrink wrap film that would have been sent to the landfill - enough to wrap the Statue of Liberty 100 times! I took that right from burtsbees.com and I found that to be incredible and very responsible of the brand!

Recycline Preserve Razor Recyclable Shavers by Preserve Products:

Recycline Preserve Razor Recyclable razors are made with 100% recyclable handles in a variety of colors. Not only are the handles made from recycled yogurt cups, but when you are finished with your blade, simply squeeze the arms and remove the head for plastics recycling. However, this plastic is not a #1 or #2, but instead a #5, so you can't put the razors in your blue bin. So, this green company enables to do your earth-friendly part by simply mailing the used handles back in Recycline's postage paid mailer. I got my mailer free from their website at www.recycline.com. It was super easy because the site enables you to print out a postage-paid mailer that can be affixed to your package. A package of four recyclable razors sells at Sprouts Farmers Market for $7.25.

Preserve products also sells recyclable toothbrushes and kitchen items. All of their items are made from 100% recycled materials that are designed to stay out of landfills

Physicians Formula: Physicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Concealer Stick looked to me like the container could be recycled, so I called the company to check.

The customer service agent told me that all of the Physicians Formula packaging can be recycled.

Great news indeed, but do double check with the City of Phoenix recycling program to ensure that each item is indeed blue-bin bound.

Beauty Bags that Beautify the Earth: Don't forget your cosmetic bag. I found two companies that make cosmetic kits that are environmentally-friendly.

Target sells a simple little zip bag that has a design with the word "recycle" listed five times in a row.

Made out of recycled cotton, this will hold your makeup while reducing landfill waste. Plus it cost under $5. A prettier pack for your cosmetics is the Chameleon-Collection Tube Case and also sells for around $5 at Target. Made by Design & Source Productions, this bag is made from recycled bottles that are cleaned, chipped and then converted into fibers for your new makeup container. Pretty cool that glass can be turned into this pretty pack.

So, the next time you are shopping for the perfect shade of lipstick or a certain color of nail polish, don't forget the color green!