By Arwa Lodhi
We’ve all done it: bought a skin cream, used it for awhile, then stopped, realising it’s making us break out. Or maybe a new cosmetic, which looked great in the store, but once you try it at home, you realise that’s just not the right shad for you. Or maybe you’ve been gifted a perfume, which, after just one spray, you knew you’d never, ever wear. But now the problem of unwanted toiletries and cosmetics has been solved, thanks to a new website called Toiletries Amnesty.
The site links people with unwanted toiletries and cosmetics to an interactive directory of community causes that need them most, such as food banks, shelters and charities. Donors can find full details of the local charities and social enterprises that need their help, and then donate at the most appropriate time and location.
The concept is the brainchild of photographer and writer Karen Harvey, who started donating her own extra toiletries to a homeless shelter in Cambridgeshire, UK , in 2014. Like most of us, Karen had accumulated many excess toiletries as gifts, in sales, and when travelling. After having blogged about her frustration in not being able to rid herself of all these products, Karen found people across the country asking her for advice about where to donate their own unwanted products.
“I had no idea we’d get so much support for the Toiletries Amnesty, but it’s so easy for people to get involved, it makes sense. There’s a social and an environmental aspect too, small actions make big changes!” says Karen.
Today, food banks, homeless shelters, mental health charities, refuges, schools and colleges can simply register to create an account and state which products they can and cannot accept. The most desirable items range from deodorant and soap to shower gel and toothpaste, with smaller travel-size or disposable items being particularly useful for homeless shelters.
Toiletries Amnesty aims to cut the amount of usable goods going to landfill or lingering in bathroom cupboards long past their expiry dates, and it has already been lauded for its efforts: in May 2018, they were awarded the Global X Foundation Grant in recognition of their great, waste-reducing work.
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