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Woman finds dumpster full of unopened products outside Ulta store: 'I ran back to get my phone after finding it'

"Pretty sweet. They're not damaged."

"Pretty sweet. They're not damaged."

Photo Credit: TikTok

One of the most wasteful practices in retail is throwing out perfectly good, undamaged products because they were returned or didn't sell as expected. 

Sometimes, a smart dumpster diver can salvage the products if they haven't been destroyed on purpose before being discarded. More and more of these savvy scavengers are documenting their hauls with photos and video — which is what this TikToker did with her find at Ulta Beauty.

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What happened?

Dumpster Diving Mama (@dumpsterdivingmama) posted a video in 2023 that shows her going through the beauty store's dumpster. "I ran back to get my phone after finding it! Someone's stash?" said the description.


The stash in question is a cardboard box loaded with unopened, quality skin care sets from Claudia Elaine and Fre Man, each containing three separate products. "All right, so I got six of these sets and one, two, three of this one. It says they're for men," she says. "Pretty sweet. They're not damaged."

This is not the first time Ulta has been called out for wasting products, as another video showing how the store disposes of unwanted makeup stock previously went viral.

Why do the wasted products matter?

Every unopened product that goes in the trash is one more item taking up space in a landfill. Meanwhile, all the electricity and resources used to make and ship the product have gone to waste, and the company will spend more making a replacement to go on the shelves.

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The end result is higher prices for consumers to cover the waste, plus more pollution from manufacturing and transportation.

What is Ulta doing to be more eco-friendly?

Ulta did not respond to The Cool Down's email request for comment on why these products were discarded. 

Ulta's Conscious Beauty initiative is designed to support beauty brands that use sustainable packaging — including reusable and recyclable options, those made from recycled materials, and those made with plant-based materials.

The retailer also has an arrangement with Pact Collective to collect empty containers for recycling.

What can you do to minimize waste in your beauty routine?

Companies may be throwing products in the trash, but you don't have to. Using up every last bit of makeup or lotion in the container will help you save money and be more eco-friendly. You can do that by cutting the package open or using a tool to scrape it out.

Once the container really is empty, participate in your beauty brand's recycling program, if it has one. Some will offer you discounts or freebies in return.

Join our free newsletter for easy tips to save more, waste less, and help yourself while helping the planet.

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