Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Repaint? How to Properly Dispose of Nail Polish

There’s something you may not know about me: I’m very green conscious. I don’t find that this environmentalism comes into conflict with my love of cosmetics that often, but I do find myself in a quandary when it comes to my love of nail polish. Let’s face it: by and large nail polish is not wonderful for the environment. For months I’ve had a shoebox in the back of my closet where I’ve been stockpiling colors I want to get rid of that I can’t swap or give to friends. Why haven’t I thrown it out? Because you can’t. 

Nail polish is categorized as “household hazardous waste.” Much like the oils and cleaners that you keep in your basement and garage, nail polish is flammable and not something you want sitting in a land fill. Dumps sit under the sun and produce a hazardous liquid run-off that’s often full of pollutants due to improperly disposed of items such as nail varnish. (That semester of environmental science in college really did pay off!) This liquid run-off can make its way into the ground and ultimately our plants and water supply. So what’s an earth loving, nail polish wearing girl to do? Here are a few options to consider:

1)      Look for your local hazardous waste recycling center by calling EARTH 9-1-1. Many of these centers accept far more than just nail polish: if you have old batteries, electronic equipment, cleaners, etc. lying around your house you’ll be able to make one very earth friendly trip. These hazardous waste recycling centers dispose of your polish in the safest way possible meaning that you won’t have to compromise the environment to paint your pointers.

2)      Place your polishes in a well ventilated place (outside!!!) and leave them open. Unlike many hazardous substances that cannot ever be put in the garbage, nail polishes can be thrown away when they are 100% dried. Though I’m certain that this isn’t the most favorable way to dispose of your polishes as the toxins become part of the air supply, it enables you to dispose of your polishes quickly in a pinch. 

3)      Help prolong the lifespan of your nail polish and remain selective about which shades you purchase. Unlike many makeup items that sit on the shelf (seemingly) unaffected by time, nail polishes dry out, begin to apply poorly, and quickly fall out of favor. Remember that you can always purchase a thinner to keep your polish smooth and clump-free. If you don't have access to polish thinner, you can add a small amount of nail polish remover to the bottle and shake: I’ve kept OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark going this way since 2005. I’m sure it also goes without saying that limiting your nail polish purchases will also enable you to use up the products you already own. I’m definitely not one to talk as I have quite a few, but I try to ask myself if I will really use a color before I purchase.

The aim of this post is certainly not to guilt you about painting your nails, but to remind you that even potentially harmful products can be disposed of safely. It takes only a moment to throw your varnishes in the garbage, but it is important to make the right decision even if it is more difficult. A choice that only takes a second to make--like chucking your polish--impacts the only planet we have forever.

Do you have any nail polish disposal tips?