Wands for Wildlife

Wands for WildlifeA wee opossum helped by Wands for Wildlife

What happens with your mascara wands when you finish a tube?

If you’re anything like I was they usually end up in the trash. Cosmetics packaging isn’t readily recyclable due to the blend of plastics and other materials. Occasionally TerraCycle has a campaign that allows for recycling of otherwise-uncommonly recyclable cosmetics packaging; right now, they’re partnered with Garnier to offer no cost recycling for those tough-to-recycle beauty and personal care items. Pretty cool!

Recycling = Good; Reusing = Better

I now keep a bin of cleaned out packaging to send off to TerraCycle. While it’s great to recycle when you can, you’ll have a greater impact to the environment if you can reuse. After all, an item in its original form without engaging the additional resources needed to turn Item A into new Item B is more resource- and environment-friendly. For me, this means cleaning and keeping mascara wands I like to use with formulas I prefer. I’m picky, though, and a lot of them are still cast out.

For the environmentally inclined among you: What if I told you that you could save your wands and send them off to help woodland critters?!

Wands for Wildlife

My mind was blown when I read Nikki‘s tweet about Wands for Wildlife, a program offered by the Appalachian Wildlife Refuge based in North Carolina. You have to cover postage, but let’s face it – mascara wands don’t weigh much.

It never occurred to me that discarded cosmetics tools could be used to help wildlife. How, you ask? Appalachian Wildlife Refuge says,

Old mascara wands are used to remove fly eggs and larva from the fur of wild animals. They work great because the bristles are close together.

The reality is unpleasant, but its good stuff. Your contributions can help this volunteer staff save all the ducklings and baby opossums (like at the top!) … among other pretty dang cute (and important) wildlife.

How You Can Help

Full and sample size wands all help! When you’re done with a mascara wand:

  • Wash it with warm, soapy water (Dawn is, as always, a champ) to remove all of the product
  • Hang onto it so you amass a few
  • Once you’ve saved enough to make the shipment worthwhile fill out the Wands for Wildlife form
  • Package up your wands and enclose their form
  • Ship it off!

Pretty easy. They ask that you not buy mascara or disposable wands just for this purpose. If you want to help further and can contribute beyond this reuse opportunity you can donate directly via a link on their site, purchase items off their wishlist, or set them up as your Amazon Smile beneficiary.

The Bottom Line

It feeds good to reduce out waste without pretending our waste could occupy a thimble. It feels better to do so and help tiny critters in the process. Keep up the good work, Appalachian Wildlife Refuge!