“Hey Mr. Green,
Can unwanted shampoo, conditioner, bath gels, scrubs etc. be emptied in the sink? And what is the best way to dispose of the plastic bottles? —Marissa, in Long Beach, California
Since some of these items contain toxic substances, endocrine disrupters, and microbeads, which bio-accumulate in aquatic creatures, it’s best to deposit all of it in your regular garbage. Health and beauty aids are so poorly regulated that we simply can’t be sure about their environmental safety, and they will be much more securely isolated from the environment in the dump than if poured down the drain. If the containers are recyclable, empty them all into a single container, put it in the garbage, and recycle the other containers.
To find safer health and beauty aids and avoid the questionable ones, take a look at the information from the Environmental Working Group. They provide ratings of thousands of products, and recommendations to avoid anything with ingredients such as triclosan, triclocarban, retinyl acetate, retinol, formaldehyde, formalin, toluene and dibutyl phthalate, alpha hydroxy acid, and, well, their litany of suspect chemicals goes on and on. Frankly, the words alone are enough to scare me away from such concoctions, but having realized long ago that any attempt to improve my looks was hopeless, I’ve avoided most of them by default anyway. Of course it’s harder for you women, what with the relentless advertising to convince you of the need for perpetual beautification. Trust me, Marissa, most of us guys will love you just as much without diaminobenzene in your hair or toluene on your toenails.”