Why People Dumpster Dive For Makeup | Beauty With Mi | Refinery29

Alright, we’re going. Alrighty. Two years ago I stumbled upon a
YouTube video that blew hauls and favorites
out of the water. Makeup lovers from all over
the country have been diving into dumpsters
behind big box beauty stores and snagging
thousands of dollars of brand new and used
makeup. Documenting their finds for hundreds of thousands
of people to see. And thus began a long journey that ended with me diving
into a dumpster myself. It all began with Jessica Casler, whose dumpster diving videos
have made her, something of an expert on the topic. I made my way to her apartment in New Jersey to find out more
about her hobby. How did you get into this? I got into dumpster diving
probably 7 years ago at this point. In college I watched a documentary
called Dive, and in that documentary
there’s a guy who dumpster dives for food. And he really showed how
there’s an insane amount
of food waste in America. So we tried dumpster diving
for food, loved it,
it was successful. I had seen–I was on
Youtube one day that someone dumpster dived
for makeup. And I was like what? Since I had already done
it for food, I was like oh I can do this. So it took me like two
seconds to like put on a pair of old jeans
and like try it myself. It was very successful. I went into the dumpster
there was a box, I pulled it out it said
returns or damaged or something. And it was just all nice product and I just like put
in my car and went home. Let’s talk about the legality
of dumpster diving. It’s legal in the United States but obviously you want to make sure
you’re not trespassing. It’s not the most black and
white thing, there are definitely a lot of
grey areas. And Jess is right, the 1988 Supreme
Court case, California v. Greenwood
made dumpster diving legal in the United States, however certain city or county
laws can still make the practice illegal. If dumpsters rest on
private property it’s still unlawful to trespass. I’ve had an instance once where
a dumpster door closed on me. It was windy and it was fine,
it scared me. it’s dangerous right,
to be in a dumpster. Like other people could be using
that dumpster as their personal receptacle. So you always kind of want to
be prepared for like the worst. Apart from the obvious
physical harm associated with
dumpster diving, the overall practice of using and sometimes reselling makeup
found in dumpsters sounds unhygienic to say the least. So I sat down with Mt Sinai
dermatologists, Doctor Zeichner to find out just what could be lurking inside a dumpster. What are some of the health and
hygiene risks of diving into a dumpster
and taking beauty products out of it. When you purchase a beauty product
new from the store you know the history of that product. But when it’s in the dumpster, you don’t know the history. You don’t know who
used it before, you don’t know what
it’s touched, and there are some real issues here in terms of infectious diseases. Bacteria like staph that can
cause abscesses, skin infections, and of course
there are viral infections, like the herpes virus. If there as a lipstick that
somebody else used and they had a cold sore
and then they returned the product, you don’t
know what’s actually living on that lipstick. There are preservatives in a
product and the company can only
guarantee that it’s not contaminated up to the date that’s on there
for it’s expiration. Solids are easier to
sanitize that liquids. When I hear about sanitizing
the applicator of the liquid lipstick, You’re not sanitizing the
liquid itself. Something like that makes me
really, really nervous. So I always tell everyone to air
on the side of safety. There are health and hygiene
risks to dumpster diving. No matter how one feels about
the practice itself though, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. I just watched hours’ worth
of videos of dumpster divers rifling through hordes of product. For me the real question isn’t
why do people dumpster dive, it’s why are these stores throwing away all of this
product. Jess wondered the same thing. The first time I did it, it was
really just eye opening that like oh my
gosh all of this stuff is being thrown away. Oh you’re dumpster diving
for makeup like why? There’s so much more
than that, a lot of times there’s like
soaps and shampoos and body care products that are
just getting thrown away, and I hate thinking that
all that stuff is gonna be used and go in the dumpster
and go into a landfill when it really doesn’t
need to be. Definitely a really bad haul
would be something that’s souped. What does that mean? Souped is when the employees
of that business have either dumped lotion
or foundation or bleach onto the products in response to dumpster
divers. Since it got popular on
YouTube I’m sure there’s been talks down the line. Alright employees got to
get more serious about souping. Electronics like hairdryers, curling
irons or straighteners what they do to technically soup those products is that
they’ll cut the cord. But luckily I know someone
that can put them back together and so I have a perfectly
usable expensive hair dryer that
I use every day. I reached out to Ulta Beauty,
a store that many divers frequent to find out why their products are sent to landfill. Although they declined to
be interviewed they did provide this statement. “Ulta Beauty, like other retailers, disposes of products
for a reason. Products that are damaged,
used, expired, or otherwise unsaleable or
unsuitable for donation are disposed of in
accordance with applicable laws, rules and
regulations.” It’s understandable that
retailers need to dispose of products deemed unsafe. But after seeing items like
perfectly useable beauty tools wind up in the dumpster,
I couldn’t help but wonder. Is there another option when
it comes to disposing for product? It all goes back to corporate
responsibility. Recycling seems like the
logical first step but it isn’t the best option. Especially since 91% of
plastic isn’t recycled. That’s why companies like
Terracycle have cropped up. To help process hard to recycle
materials. We deal with items that cost
more to process and recycle than the value
at the end. So Terracycle partners with
different brands who sponsor the shipping and recycle of all of their nonrecyclable material. What are some things that
are deemed nonrecyclable. In the instance of personal
care and beauty think about the different
types of plastics and or metals that might be in
one single product. If you have a shampoo bottle
with a pump inside of that may be a spring or some sort
of additional plastic. So it’s multipolymer. And so it automatically
becomes more complicated in that way. What do you think that
retailers and brands can do, instead of putting
all this waste into landfill. The first step for a lot of
brands is to take a macro step back and say,
“Okay what is that we’re producing, what do our
supply chains look like, what’s important to our
consumer, how do we want to be a good
steward to the environment, and then what’s the end of life for our products. So once a consumer has it
and they have now utilized the product inside, then what? How can we offer an end of
life solution that’s sustainable and not negatively
impacting the environment remove waste
from landfills.” According to a 2015 report
by Neilson, 66% of global consumers
say they’re willing to pay more for sustainable brands. Retailers can work with third party
organizations to ensure that their unsaleable products
aren’t left sitting in landfills for the next 500 years. And brands should be taking
the steps needed to get there. But it’s not just the disposal methods
of product that needs to change. It’s the products themselves. Beauty industry veteran,
Shane Wolfe, has worked with successful
haircare brands like Redken and Pureology. In 2018, he worked with L’Oreal
to launch Seed Phytonutrients. A brand that uses shower
friendly compostable cardboard bottles. I would love to learn from
you about why you decided to start Seed. I spent my entire career
working in the beauty industry and there came a point
when I started to see the picture of ocean
plastic and reading the realities of the fact that
our landfills are filling with mountains
of plastic. And i’m looking around at
the beauty industry that I spent all my career in
saying we can do better than this. As knowledge increases
with consumers we see their choices shifting as well. A great example is the
no straws movement. For me the tipping point was
when I went from wanting to create an actual
product, as in a formula. To then saying but how will
we package that? It’s time to go because we
need to lead by example to show that there is
another way. There was never a moment
of doubt. We went directly to the CEO
of L’Oreal World Wide and pitched the idea. It was a yes from the beginning. What makes the Seed
Phytonutrients bottle and the things that you
package your products in different from what else is out there
on the market? Knowing we already had
a great formula. We knew we would only launch
when we found a packaging solution that helped
to reduce our dependency on plastic overall. Very little plastic is recycled,
on the contrary, about 90% of paper is
recycled in the US. So the Seed Phytonutrients
bottle is the industries first shower
safe paper bottle that is composed of 60%
less plastic than a normal bottle. So I am pleased that we have
reduced the amount of plastic per bottle by 60%, but in no way am I satisfied. In 2019 we’re down to 70% with a plan to reach 80%
less by the year after that. The beauty Industry creates an
exorbitant amount of waste, that much we know. I decided I had to see for
myself just how much is thrown
away. So I hitched a ride with Jessica to go diving at her local
beauty super store. What advice do you have
for me? What should I expect? I think going in with no or
low expectations is probably the way to go. Visualize that we’re going
to find something. Okay. Definitely I plan my route alright
I want to hit this place, this place, and this place kind of organize it like that. I’m glad you’re like my
guide tonight. Yeah You’re like the Gandalf of
dumpster diving. Ready? Alright. First dumpster what’s
in here? So exciting. Looks like hm… boxes
and stuff. Okay. Try to land like in, yeah. Bye. Alright I think this is a dud. It is a cardboard only
receptacle. The reason I wanted us to
go in there is because sometimes you do find product in the
cardboard bins and that’s just cause people
are lazy or don’t read the sign and put
in whatever they want. Alright dumpster number 2. Let’s do this. After you. Thank you thank you. Be careful this one- Okay. It’s not easy… you got it? Okay so it doesn’t smell the
greatest in here. But it doesn’t smell that bad It’s not so bad. Not what I was expecting. Okay this is definitely like
their food situation, but look at this.. So here’s.. There’s product. This is definitely product, right? Hair gel, let’s just see if it’s like… Idk it doesn’t look touched. Untouched. So that might be a keep. So this looks opened, some
sort of hair color so that would be a no go. Shampoo, but it does look
a hundred percent full. If you need to organize things
outside of a dumpster that’s fine but obviously make sure that you clean up even more than you
found it. Just being respectful of the area. Oh my god, we found the
mother load. This is clearly a bag that is full of completely new,
untouched lotions, conditioners,
hairsprays. I mean just tons of stuff. Looks like totally unopened,
they were just on sale and nobody wanted them. No one wanted them and
they just trashed them. Absolutely. Spray on color. So I’m seeing more stuff
over here, like I found a whole bunch
of these. More hair spray, it’s 100% full. Oh wait I found more, a whole bunch of hair color. A ton of hair color yeah. It’s powdered acrylics. Everything’s there, none
of its… it’s all fine. I would say we found a
pretty successful haul. I think so, this is great. Like I said sometimes you find
absolutely nothing or there’s been someone there
before you or… Yeah you got the goods. Yeah. Regardless of how you feel
about diving itself, there are many ways
companies and consumers can make more
sustainable choices. And we shouldn’t stop there. It’s also important the
government has set them up for success too. Like offering tax incentives
for sustainable initiatives. I can’t begin to know what
the long term solution to this problem is. All i know for sure is something
needs to be done. And with the interest in
sustainable and natural beauty surging, this couldn’t
be a better time for consumers and brands to
stand up and show the world what really
matters to them. In an ideal world maybe you
wouldn’t even have to. Right, you wouldn’t have to
dumpster dive because everything would have a place and have a home and there wouldn’t be over production of stuff. I look forward to the day when
there’s no longer the beauty industry and
the sustainable beauty industry. When it is just the beauty
industry. And I know we are going to
get there. Thanks so much for
watching, guys. Click here to subscribe to
Refinery29. And click here to watch
another video. Bye!

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