When you've finished your favorite lipstick or blush, what do you do with the packaging? Do you toss it in the trash, recycle it, or just stare at it blankly not knowing what to do? According to the EPA, each year Americans create millions of tons of waste. Check out my chart for general guidelines on what can and can't be recycled, when you


Cardboard, glass jars and bottles, metal lids and caps, plastic bottles, and steel (tin) cans
Mirrors, plastic wrap, and waxed cardboard
Empty aerosol cans Accepted by some waste management systems, as long as they are empty. Check first to be certain.
Aerosol cans with product Consider it hazardous waste, as contents are still under pressure.
Plastic containers and clamshells Check which types of plastic your waste management system accepts.
Compostable plastic Should go in compost, instead.
Nail polishes Treat as hazardous waste, and dispose of properly.
Lipstick Many companies, like MAC and Cargo, will take back used tubes and handle the recycling for you.
Plastic bottle caps While some cities accept all plastic bottle caps, some do not. If yours doesn't, check your community for bottle cap collection drives, or consider Aveda's recycle caps program.

Remember, when in doubt, check the label or call the manufacturer or your local waste management. Consider only purchasing products that are recyclable and/or made from post-consumer recycled materials. Or head to Origins. The stores will accept any brand's cleaned-out cosmetic containers for recycling. Plus, you'll get a free skin care sample.