Polish Police STOP: Why You Shouldn’t Throw Old, Empty Nail Polish Bottles In The Trash

Old, empty nail polish bottles are considered toxic, so you should follow hazardous waste disposal guidelines rather than throwing your nail polish in the trash.

Why You Shouldn't Throw Empty Nail Polish Bottles In The Trash

You might not think that something small, fun and feminine like nail polish could be a harbinger of death, but when it’s not disposed of properly, it can be. Believe it or not, most nail lacquers contain serious chemicals — so much so, that the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency considers the beauty substance to be a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and urges people to follow hazardous waste disposal guidelines when tossing old, empty nail polish bottles.  

How Nail Polish Harms The Environment

When you toss old or dried out nail polish in the trash, the dangerous chemicals the polish normally contains (toulene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate, for example) could leak out of the bottle — even if it's tightly closed — and leach into the soil, thereby contaminating the groundwater supply. When you consider the majority of America gets its drinking water from groundwater, that’s a scary thought. Can you imagine drinking that old nail polish?

Meanwhile, it’s equally dangerous to pour nail polish down the drain or flush it down the toilet. That water eventually makes its way to rivers and oceans, and the chemicals found in the nail polish can harm plants and animals.

How To Properly Dispose Of Nail Polish

So what’s a polish laden person to do? Experts recommend that anyone wishing to dispose of nail polish should safely discard the bottles at a Household Hazardous Waste facility (a list of which you can find here, under the online approvals section) or at a Safe Disposal Event, which typically happen every few months in most communities.

So plan a trip to your nearest HHW facility or call up your mayor’s office to find out when the next Safe Disposal Event will be happening in your town, and then round up all your old nail polish (and old paint, batteries, fluorescent light bulbs, electronics, unused medication, fertilizer, needles, swimming pool chemicals, motor oil and other car products while you’re at it) and know that by doing the right thing, you’re saving both the environment and any stress you might feel about tossing dangerous products away irresponsibly.

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Kambra Clifford