A composting bin

Can I put lotion in my compost bin?

NO ✋🏼

You can't put lotion into your composting bin!

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No category📂
6 months - 2 years

Get the right balance of brown and green composting materials in your bin with our expert guide.

Why You Should Not Put Lotion in Compost Bins

A detailed look at the issues with adding lotion to compost piles and alternative disposal methods

Lotion is something that many of us use daily as part of our skin care and hygiene routines. However, when it comes to proper disposal, simply tossing used lotion containers or excess product into the compost bin is not advisable. In this article, we will explore why lotion does not belong in compost bins and examine recommended alternatives for sustainable disposal.

Can Lotion Go in Compost Bins?

The short answer is no. You should not put any type of lotion - whether facial creams, body moisturizers, hand sanitizers, or other related products - in home, municipal, or commercial composting systems.

Why Lotion Composting Does Not Work

There are a few key reasons why composting lotion is problematic:

  • Toxic Ingredients - Most mass-market lotion formulas contain chemical additives like parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, and petroleum byproducts. When introduced into compost piles, these ingredients can be toxic to the microorganisms and insects that drive the decomposition process.

  • Plastics & Uncompostable Components - Lotions are commonly packaged in plastic containers and tubes. Any plastic elements - including bottles, pumps, caps, seals, etc. - will not break down during composting. Some lotion product formulas themselves may also contain plastics and other non-compostable ingredients.

  • Disruption of Proper pH & Nutrient Balance - Successful composting relies on maintaining optimal pH, carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, moisture level, and oxygen flow. If too many lotions and creams are added, it can reduce airflow and alter the compost pile conditions in ways that slow or stop the decomposition of organic waste.

Other Items That Don't Belong in Compost

Along with lotion, there are various other common household products that should be kept out of compost systems. These include:

  • Cooked animal products like meat, dairy, bones, and fat
  • Invasive weeds with seeds or root bits
  • Pet feces
  • Inorganic trash (glass, metal, etc.)
  • Ashes from coal, charcoal briquettes
  • Treated wood products

Sustainable Lotion Disposal Alternatives

Instead of composting, we recommend utilizing one of the following eco-friendly lotion disposal solutions:

Recycling Empty Containers

If possible based on your local recycling guidelines, thoroughly clean out any lotion bottles, tubes, or jars and place them in your curbside pickup recycling bin. Opt for pump-style lotion packaging when available, as this is more likely to be recyclable than lotions in jars or tubs.

Donating Unwanted Lotion

Gently used, unexpired lotions can likely be donated to charity organizations like homeless shelters and women's aid groups, who will find recipients in need. Call ahead to confirm donation guidelines.

Repurposing Containers

Creative reuse is another great option. Clean used lotion containers can be upcycled into jewelry boxes, mini planters, or travel containers for non-lotion items like bobby pins, floss, or Band-Aids.

Utilizing Hazardous Waste Disposal

Check if your municipality or local waste management company offers periodic household hazardous waste (HHW) collection days for citizens to properly dispose of toxic, reactive, or other dangerous products. These organized events are the safest way to discard old lotions.

Seeking Producer Take-Back

Some lotion companies and retailers now participate in product stewardship initiatives where they voluntarily take back the packaging they produce in order to sustainably manage its end of life. Check the labeling and brand website for details on any available take-back programs.

Choosing Compostable Lotions

For eco-conscious consumers who want lotions that can be composted, there are now more options available:

  • Solid Lotions - Brands like Lush and Meow Meow Tweet offer lotion bars, balms, and butters made solely from organic plant oils and beeswax or shea - no synthetic chemicals, plastics, or water. These can break down cleanly.

  • Paper & Compostable Packaging - Ethique, Soaper Duper, and other green brands sell lotions in home compostable containers like kraft paper tubes instead of plastic.

  • Refillable Systems - Some companies provide reusable glass pump bottles that customers then purchase customizable refill pouches for. The packaging is recyclable and the serum itself uses gentle biodegradable formulas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can biodegradable lotions go in compost piles?

Biodegradable lotions made entirely of plant-derived ingredients can potentially break down well in compost environments. However, lotion producers often stretch the truth about biodegradability claims, so check thoroughly on sourcing and conduct home testing first before composting any store-bought lotion.

What about compostable plastic lotion bottles? Are those ok?

No, most compostable plastics (PLA, etc.) require industrial composting facilities to fully decompose. They will not break down as expected in backyard compost bins. While an improvement over conventional plastic in the production process, they should not be composted at home.

Can Eco Beauty products with sustainable, refillable packaging be composted?

If the lotion inside is also natural and biodegradable itself, then yes - zero waste beauty systems with reusable outer packaging and inner compostable serum pouches offer a complete eco-friendly solution. But reuse via refills is still the priority; composting should only happen once the pouches cannot be refilled again.

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