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8 Bathroom Items We All Forget to Recycle

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Before you pitch empty containers in your bathroom, check this list to see if they’re recyclable.

Don’t overlook the bathroom — it’s full of containers and packaging and other materials that can usually be recycled, but often aren’t.

Check with your waste hauler to find out exactly what’s recyclable at your home, and then get started on your own bathroom recyclables inventory, matching paper types and plastic numbers (on the bottom of the bottles!) to what’s accepted. You’ll probably find that there’s more recyclable paper, cardboard, glass, and plastic in your bathroom than you realized; here are just a few of the commonly-recyclable, often-forgotten ones:

1. Shampoo and Body Wash Bottles: The opaque bottles for shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lotion, contact lens solution, and other toiletries are usually made of #2 plastic (High Density Polyethylene, or HDPE), which is accepted by most recyclers. Number 2 plastics can be recycled into building materials like lumber or fencing, office supplies like pens, or more bottles. Keep in mind that bottles made from #3 plastic, which is less common, are not as widely accepted by curbside recycling programs.

2. Mouthwash Bottles: These clear bottles are typically made of #1 plastic, or PET, which is accepted by most curbside recycling programs.

3. Pill and Medicine Containers: The amber-colored prescription pill bottles, as well as opaque plastic bottles containing both pills and liquid medicines, are usually #1, 2, 3, or 5 plastics, so it’s especially important to check the bottom of the bottles and compare to what your hauler accepts at home. Don’t forget to take the caps off and dispose of them separately.

4. Cardboard Packaging: Don’t forget to recycle the boxes that your toiletries came in, such as cosmetics, cotton swabs, at-home hair color, facial tissues (the used tissues themselves aren’t recyclable, though), vitamins and over-the-counter medications. Another no-brainer cardboard recyclable? The tube that your toilet paper and paper towels came on.

5. Hair Care Products: Check the hair gel tubes, hairspray bottles, pomade and deep-conditioning tubs for their plastic numbers — chances are, once you finish off the container, you can rinse them out and put them right in your recycling bin.

Some common bathroom items are recyclable, but accepted less often at your curbside pick-up and may require some extra attention:

6. Make-up Compacts: Check for the recycling symbol on the underside of your make-up compacts; once clean, they may be able to go in your bin. Otherwise, look out for cosmetics companies that will accept their spent packaging to recycle in-house.

7. Plastic Films and Wrappers: The plastic wrap that your cotton balls, toilet paper, diapers and other products come in can be recycled, but likely not through your curbside program. Instead, look online for a local drop-off location. It will likely be recycled into composite lumber, containers, pipes or other materials.

8. Toothbrushes and Toothpaste Tubes: While these might not be accepted in your curbside recycling program, there are organizations that will collect hard-to-recycle household items like toothbrushes. And don’t forget that the box your toothpaste came in can probably go in your home recycling bin!

What bathroom items do you always forget to recycle? ‘Fess up in the comments below!

Learn more about Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.'s Care To Recycle campaign.

Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.

The Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies is committed to taking care of the natural resources they use. With 9 billion people in the world by 2050, and natural resources already being consumed faster than the planet can replenish, caring for the planet has never been more important. One way Johnson & Johnson takes care of the planet, is to use recyclable materials in their product packaging. But they need your help to complete the cycle of care by recycling the package when it is empty.


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About the Author
Jessica Harlan
Jessica Harlan

I love finding new ways to green my family's life as painlessly as possible, and sharing those ideas with folks who want to do the same.