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Green challenges

Thinking global and acting local, Julie Grundy takes on any challenge we throw at her.

What can we do with our un-green cosmetics?

Decorative soaps in a basket

Credit: Phanton via Wikimedia

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If your friends and family are like mine, you get gifts of pretty soaps and bath gels and so on for birthdays and Christmas. I choose to think they want me to pamper myself and relax, not that I need a hint to bathe more often!

But it does raise the issue of how to deal with the less eco-friendly gifts I’ve been given. They're all unopened and brand-new. Now that I know how much petroleum is in these products, I’d rather not use them. On the other hand, I certainly don’t want to waste them by throwing them away. And it feels so rude to the thoughtful people giving me presents.

The environmental damage has already been done: the petroleum by-products, the packaging, the transport to and from shops. So as long as they doesn’t end up in landfill, I think it’s ok to get some use out of them.

It’s a sticky issue, and if you’ve got a solution I’d love to hear from you in the comments. For now, what I’ve been doing is stashing these sorts of gifts in a box, and I’m going to donate them to a women’s refuge. So far I’ve got 3 types of bubblebath, some pretty soaps, some hygiene products that were a freebie from an event I attended, and a shampoo that’s not right for my hair type. I found that last one while decluttering my bathroom cupboard!

Any place offering emergency accommodation is usually in need of consumable products like soap, shampoo and so on. And I think it’s nice if people in a difficult situation don’t have to resort to budget offerings - it’s not going to change their long-term problems, but we all know how relaxing a bubble bath is when you’re having a stressful time.

You will need to call ahead for this sort of thing - shelters are not keen on broadcasting their location to everyone, but will have a contact number you can call to make arrangements. I’m going to ask my friends if they have any similar products they’d like me to include in the box so we can get a good size for our donation.

What do you think? Is there a better way to deal with this, or should I use the products all up myself?