Your pump of face wash runs dry: What do you do? If you’re like most people, you either toss the bottle in the trash with a twinge of guilt or put it in your recycling bin and hope for the best—you’re not sure it’s recyclable and suspect it might get sorted out and sent to a landfill anyway.

Because the climate talks happening in Paris right now have us once again re-evaluating our own efforts to preserve the planet, we decided to finally figure out how to ensure that the dozens of product packages we go through each year don’t end up languishing in a landfill for all eternity. Here’s a new action plan for recycling beauty-product waste that’s totally doable (hello, early New Year’s resolution!).

Step 1: Figure out what you can recycle locally.
What local waste management authorities and recycling companies will accept varies widely, even in neighboring cities. Do a little (easy) homework and hop online to find out what kinds of materials yours takes. Then inspect your beauty stash to see which things qualify. This is the part that’s tricky. Many beauty products, especially small ones, lack that stamped triangle with a number that tells you which type of plastic they’re made of—the guideline most recycling organizations use to tell you what they’ll take. Meanwhile, you probably can only recycle a couple of the many plastics out there. One estimate has it that only 1.7% of the U.S. population has access to a plastic collection program that accepts “All Bottles and Specific Plastics.”

Also, many beauty items are deemed non-recyclable because they utilize harder types of plastic that are more difficult to process and/or mix multiple materials in one package: a pump bottle, for example, includes the bottle, a cap made from a different plastic, and a metal spring. Even when each material is recyclable individually, the combined package may not be. “It’s confusing, and you’re not alone in feeling like it’s hard to figure out,” says Darby Hoover, waste expert and senior resource specialist at the Natural Resources Defense Council. That doesn’t mean you have to resort to the garbage can, though.

Step 2: Stop tossing the items you can’t easily recycle.
Collect all items of questionable recyclability in a separate box (just leave out anything potentially hazardous, like aerosol cans and perfume or nail-polish bottles, due to risk of flammability in transit). Get them reasonably clean by rinsing or scooping out remaining contents. Then choose one of these two easy options for sending them on their way, to hopefully be reincarnated as something new.

1. Ship them to TerraCycle: Print a free shipping label, courtesy of the company’s partnership with Garnier, and drop your haul off at UPS. With each shipment, you’ll also earn points toward a donation to the school or charity of your choice. Since its inception in 2011, the Garnier Personal Care and Beauty Recycling Program has collected more than 6.3 million units of personal care and beauty waste, and over $124,000 has been donated to schools and charities. Much of the waste is re-used to make playground equipment, plastic lumber, decking, benches, picnic tables, and more.

If shipping (even free) trips you up, check if one of TerraCycle’s 17,500 collection-bin locations is nearby; post on the TerraCycle Facebook or Twitter page to find out where your closest one is.

If you’re feeling motivated to make a bigger impact, you can even start a new collection location at your school, workplace, or community center. Here’s a guide to making a collection bin and an accepted waste poster.

2. Bring them to any Origins store or department-store counter. Launched in 2009, the Return to Origins recycling program accepts all cosmetic containers—including all tubes, caps, and jars—regardless of brand.

Step 3: Support brands that make recycling easier.
“The best long-term solution is for companies to find ways to make their packages more readily recyclable in a majority of communities,” Hoover says. Toward this end, when you’re shopping for new products, give preference to packaging that’s labeled as recyclable (or in the very least, has a stamp indicating which plastic it’s made of), is biodegradable, and/or is made using recycled materials. The more we support brands’ efforts to make their packaging greener, the smaller the environmental footprint of our beauty routines will become. And that would be a beautiful thing.

Watch this video on The Scene.

Want to know what’s trending in beauty now? Check the Lipstick Index: