Q. Do you know of any way to dispose of unwanted toiletries in a way that’s kind to the environment (along the lines of taking unused medicines back to the pharmacists)? For example, a friend recently gave me a bottle of Boots shampoo that doesn’t suit my hair type. If it was packaged differently, I’d hand it in to a charity shop. Is there any alternative to dumping the shampoo down the sink and putting the bottle in the recycling?
A. Our best tip is probably for you to join www.freecycle.org. Freecycle – which we’re huge fans of – is a network of people who try to stop products going to landfill by putting them up for grabs on the internet. Join your nearest Freecycle group, and then you can ‘post’ items that you’d like to get rid of – it’s more often building materials, or books, or furnishings, or children’s toys, but we’ve seen cosmetics posted there too. We wouldn’t suggest doing this with any product which might have been contaminated by contact with the skin (such as a moisturiser or make-up), but for something in a squeezy or screw-top bottle where you’re pouring the contents out, it seems fine to us – ditto any product where you haven’t opened the packaging yet. We’re sure you’d find a home for your unwanted beauty goodies with someone nearby, who’ll come and collect it. It might seem like a lot of trouble to go to, to dispose of unwanted cosmetics, but yes: we’re all for stopping excess gunk going down the drain into the waterways, and all for every last drop of products being used up rather than going to landfill.