Sustainability in beauty: How to upcycle your makeup, perfume and candle containers by reusing them to save Earth

Sustainability in beauty: How to upcycle your makeup, perfume and candle containers by reusing them to save Earth

Repurposing goals

Text: Angelyn Kwek

Editor: Jolene Khor

With sustainability and the zero-waste concept becoming hot button issues in recent years, the consumer demand for eco-friendly practices has brought about a revolution in most industries. In the beauty realm — notorious for excess packaging — brands have begun to address this matter by reducing their carbon footprint and opting for bio-degradable materials where possible.

Nonetheless, this is a tricky territory to tread as beauty is usually synonymous with luxury. How do you balance being green with producing goods that rely on its packaging to promote extravagance? Past research has shown that the cosmetics industry churned out around 120 billion units of packaging per year, with cardboard contributing to the loss of 18 million acres of forest annually. *Gulp* Clearly, keeping makeup out of landfills is a problem that has a long way to go before it can be resolved.

Change, however, can start at home, with us beauty junkies making the conscious decision to upcycle our product empties instead of just binning them. All it takes is a little re-purposing and a touch of crafting to give them a new lease of life. The ways you can trick out your used beauty containers, below.


1. Storage solution for your bits and bobs
If finding loose change or bobby pins has you rooting around your purse endlessly, simply pop them into old makeup compacts to make life easier. Plenty of small items including paperclips for the office desk or pills can be stored this way to keep things organised.

2. DIY solid perfumes
After a thorough cleansing, your compacts can double up as containers for DIY solid perfumes. All you have to do is add a few drops of your favourite essential oil or fragrance to some melted beeswax or coconut oil, pour it into the compact, and let it solidify. It's a pretty nifty alternative to toting around perfume minis that could break or spill.




1. Flower vase stand-ins
Speaking of fragrances, we all have that one gorgeous flaçon (or five) that's just too sayang to throw away even when all the juice has evaporated. Consider turning them into flower vases; that way you can justify keeping them while sprucing up your décor at the same time.

2. Transform them into diffusers
It's a pretty natural course of action in the particular product's lifecycle, wouldn't you say? Seeing as the idea of diffusers are pretty much perfumes without the spritzer. Just stick some reeds into the bottle, and the scent will fill the room for weeks to come.




1. Craft them into decorative jars
You'll need to channel your artsy side a tad for this one, but the end result is well worth it. With some adorable figurines glued onto the jar lids and a can of spray paint, you can turn any powder container from plastic to fantastic.

2. DIY spice rack
There's more to the glass jars from your skincare than simply relegating them to being paperweights. A good rinsing out and a spot of re-labelling later, you can transform them into your very own spice rack for the kitchen. Plus they'll make fab gifts to give out to your culinary inclined friends.




1. Make 'em into holders
This one's a no-brainer. Instead, what stops most people from re-using them as holders for makeup brushes or stationery is the cleaning of the residual wax. To get your candle jar squeaky-clean, you'll want to use boiling water to dislodge leftover wax, and then simply scrub them as you would any glass.

2. Serve 'em up with drinks
Give them a clean with the aforementioned method and they good to go as tumblers when the shot glasses start running out.




1. Join a makeup recycling programme
Unfortunately, the tiny dimensions of your standard lipstick tube aren't good for storing much besides toothpicks or bobby pins. Consequently, some makeup companies have launched recycling initiatives that take back empty lipstick tubes in exchange for discounts or freebies. 'Back to M.A.C' by M.A.C Cosmetics is one such programme doing its part for the environment.

2. Choose to buy refills or products made with recycled materials
Another way you can be a smart and eco-conscious consumer is by purchasing product refills where you can. Chanel and Burberry are two luxury brands practicing this, FYI. Additionally, you can make the retail choice of picking up beauty goodies packaged with recycled materials — either in full or up to a certain percentage — to add eco warrior points to your stash.