So, you’ve made the switch to safer personal care items, free of all those toxic chemical ingredients—well done! But as many readers have written to me, that transformation leaves us with a vexing issue of disposal: what to do with all the unwanted, chemical-laden products? Dumping all those parabens and phthalates down the drain or tossing them into landfill to make their way into the water table eventually, just doesn’t feel like the right solution, does it?
Maybe once word spreads about the dangers of toxins in bodycare, more facilities will recognize the hazards of those household items; in the meantime, most household hazardous waste depots don’t accept things like shampoo and nail polish. In recent years, municipal take-back programs have expanded their list of acceptable household wastes from just tires and paint to include pharmaceuticals, small appliances and other tricky disposables, but they too will only take that bottle of conditioner once it’s empty.
October 17 – 23 is Waste Reduction Week in Canada. So, in the spirit of trying our best, here’s a list of several household waste facilities across the country. It’s not as complete as we might like, but it’s a start.
The Recycling Council of British Columbia lists retailers willing to take back household waste such as glasses, lightbulbs, batteries, small appliances; however, cosmetics and personal care products are not included.
In Alberta Eco Centers in Edmonton and the Bow Valley Waste Management Commission accept sofas, car batteries, fire extinguishers and just about everything in between, but neither considers cosmetics or personal care items hazardous enough for drop-off.
Saskatchewan offers a searchable database that includes what to do with your old bras and yoga mats but not specifically personal care products.
In Ontario, a provincial recycling council offers free community toolkits for organizers and municipalities to improve their waste reduction and disposal practices. At MaketheDrop.ca simply enter your postal code for the nearest municipal waste disposal site. Cosmetics (with the exception of nail polish remover) are not an accepted category at this time.
Residents of New Brunswick can contact their local Solid Waste Commission to ask about specific products, though a quick search of the two biggest cities, Fredericton and Moncton, revealed only paint exchange programs.
In the three biggest Canadian cities, neither Toronto’s Drop off Depots nor Montreal’s Eco Centres accept cosmetics specifically, but in Vancouver the answer seems to depend on the waste disposal contract in different regions of the city.
On Prince Edward Island, there is no charge for disposal at any of the province’s Waste Watch Drop-Off Centres. By email, the local waste agency confirmed that “Any product that contains any form of chemical is considered hazardous on PEI” and is included in their comprehensive list of accepted items. The Island Waste Management Corporation even has an Interactive Sorting Guide and application for adding any item you can’t find listed.
An equally commendable program is in place for Newfoundland and Labrador which offer a complete list of all permanent Hazardous Household Waste depots in the province and participating mobile collection municipalities.
If these links don’t apply to where you live, contact your regional municipality or province and ask about a community toxic round-up. You may be pleasantly surprised your neighbourhood will add cosmetics and personal care products at your request.
For more resources on properly disposing of your household wastes, contact me below:
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