Many companies are making the switch to eco-friendly packaging and incorporating more plant-based ingredients into their products. But there's also another side of green beauty, and it has to do with keeping unwanted purchases and used-up packaging from piling up on our planet. Here are five ways to shop smarter and give back to Mother Earth in the process.

Can’t reach the serum in the bottom of the jar? If a cotton swab doesn’t get it, consider a tool designed to keep products from going to waste. One to try: Recoup Beautiscoop, a wand with two spatulas that fit through the neck of small bottles. But don’t try to thin out the formula. “Water seriously impacts a product’s efficacy,” says Annie Jackson, cofounder of clean beauty brand retailer Credo. Better to turn a bottle over, give it a shake, then let gravity do the rest

Plastic bottles with an imprint of the number 1, 2, or 5 within a triangle are typically recyclable. Their caps, however, may not be. “Cosmetic packaging with mixed materials like metal and plastic are notoriously difficult to recycle,” says Ashlee Piper, an ecolifestyle expert. Happily, stores like Origins and Credo will recycle caps, empty tubes, and compacts—no purchase necessary. Some brands (like Burt’s Bees, L’Occitane, and Eos) have free recycling programs through TerraCycle, a company that creates new products from old packaging.

Contact a local shelter to see if it will accept unopened or gently used products. Or send them to Project Beauty Share, which will distribute lightly used products (depending on the kind) to marginalized women. Piper recommends disinfecting anything that has been in contact with your skin with a mist or two of rubbing alcohol. (Put it in a spray bottle for mess-free cleaning.)

Avoid hard-to-recycle materials by looking for items with minimal packaging, such as bar soaps that often come wrapped in recyclable paper. Lush sells solid bars of skin-care staples like cleansers, toners, facial oils, and serums. If you’re stuck with nonrecyclable packaging, repurpose it. A small plastic tub that held eye cream, for instance, could hold jewelry, other tiny items, or even beauty products when you travel. “I clean small containers and fill them with my face cream when I’m traveling instead of going out and buying travel-size containers,” Piper says.

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Knowing the meaning of the words on product packaging can help you make better-informed shopping decisions. Here's a guide.

Peter: But XR co-founder Clare Farrell defended the Tube action and said: "The public, I don't think, realise quite how serious this situation is." - That's because I've lived 53 years, was told an ice age was coming due to CO2, then later was told dire warming was coming and that by 2020 New York would be under 2 feet of water and the earth would be in turmoil. Once you live through so many cultish claims of the end of the world, you tend to not see. There is a good reason for that. It's called lack of trust in cult leaders who only want to use scare tactics to control their members.

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