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January 22, 2014

How to Recycle or Reuse Bath & Beauty Products We Probably Already Own.

Reduce, reuse and recycle is my mantra, and one I try to live up to.

I like to think that I am pretty eco-friendly.

However, there is one area where I have generated a lot more waste than I would like to admit and that has to do with cosmetics.

The irony that I seldom wear make-up and consider myself a low maintenance gal is not lost on me. Still, the evidence speaks for itself: my bathroom closet is full of half-filled or nearly full bottles of shampoos, hair conditioners, and other beauty products that either did not live up to the hype or just did not suit me.

While recycling the packages was an option in some cases, tossing perfectly good stuff in the trash or down the drain just seemed wasteful.

However, I recently discovered some surprising uses on how to recycle some items that most of us have lying around and that most thrift shops will not take.

1. Shampoo and body wash.

If you read the ingredient lists, a lot of times they’re are identical. Generally speaking, most shampoos can be used as body washes and vice versa. I recently bought an expensive shampoo from a well-known line of natural products and while it did not do much for my naturally limp, oily hair, it made a fantastic gentle body wash for both my daughter and myself.

Another great use for these is as a washing liquid for woolens, silk, lingerie, and other hand washables. (Just be sure that if you’re using shampoo it’s the non-conditioning sort. Some of those leave a film behind.) Whatever you are using, be sure to test out a small portion if it’s a delicate fabric like silk or some natural and synthetic blends.

2. Conditioner.

If you’ve ever bought any of those “natural” shaving creams, you may have noticed how similar most of them are to hair conditioner. Basically, that’s what all shaving creams and gels do: they soften the hair, making it easier to shave.

I recently bought a hair mask that was far too heavy and greasy for my hair, but makes the best shaving cream in the world. Just apply like you would any other shaving cream.

3. Soap

One tip I learned from my grandmother is to keep a bar of soap in your bureau drawers to keep clothes smelling fresh. It’s also said to repel moths.

I also like to melt soap and make it into crayon-shapes so my daughter can draw on the tiled walls and shower doors during bath time.

This can be fun even if you don’t have kids. If you have a partner or spouse, write a sexy note for them on the bathroom mirror.

4. Lip balm

If you’re like me, you probably have dozens of these cluttering up various drawers, coat pockets and handbags. One quick way to use up half-filled or nearly empty tubes is to use it as cuticle cream.

Also, I discovered by accident that this makes a nice balm to protect against cold and windburn. (I was outside during a snowstorm and used this on my chapped cheeks. Much to amazement, this worked much better than most cold weather moisturizers.) Note for those with sensitive skin: avoid those that have menthol or mint listed as an ingredient. It can be a potential irritant.

One final note: if none of the above appeal to you, see about donating your partially filled bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash to a local homeless shelter. (Mine accepted my nearly full shampoos and conditioners.)

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: The Sounds Retreat/Flickr

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