How To Reduce Your Plastic Waste When Shaving
In the last century since it was first commercialised, plastic has become an essential part of our everyday lives. From disposable syringes to computers and mobile phones, there is no doubt that it has had an enormously beneficial impact on our quality of life.
But with it comes a great cost: once you are finished drinking your bottled water or using your disposable razor, how do you get rid of it?
The main problem is that plastic doesn’t biodegrade and instead sits around, taking up space, for a long long time. We do sometimes incinerate it and some of it is recycled, but most often landfill sites will simply store it or it is lost to the environment such as our oceans where it is having a detrimental affect on wildlife.
An estimated 79% of the plastic that has ever been created is still here in our environment.
We should all be trying to reduce our plastic footprint. No one is suggesting you should cast off all of life’s luxuries but there are some areas where reducing the amount of plastic you throw away is easy and can be incredibly beneficial.
Although not the worst offenders (we’re looking at you plastic bottles, straws and bags), disposable plastic razors are a serious problem. In 1990 the EPA wrote a handbook to raise awareness for recycling and to encourage people to reduce their use of disposable products. They estimated that 2 billion disposable razors ended up in landfill sites in the US alone every year and that was back in 1990! Disposable razors haven't become any easier to recycle and you can be sure a lot more are produced and sent to landfill now where they they potentially take up to 1000 years to biodegrade.
So how can you prevent disposable razors going to landfill?
You unfortunately can’t recycle disposable razors because their complicated housing that holds the metal in place is too difficult (and potentially dangerous) to split apart into their respective materials.
Switching to a non disposable razor such as a double-edge (DE) safety razor is the easiest decision you could ever make to reduce your plastic waste and get that warm smug glow inside that you know hippies feel at all times.
Most DE razors are made from solid metal and coated in a non-rust material such as chromium. That means with proper care you may never need to buy another razor again!
But what about the blades?
The double-edge razor blades in DE shaving are disposable but, because they’re made from metal, they will eventually rust into nothing in a relatively short amount of time. Better yet, you can even recycle them. Using a razor tin, the blades can be stored and then safely disposed of at a recycling centre when full.
But is this trading down?
Your initial thought may be to question the sacrifice you’re making by throwing away your fancy modern razor in favour of technology that’s over 100 years old.
But don’t be put off! Years and years of marketing ads have conditioned you to believe that the technology for shaving is now much more advanced than it actually is and, therefore, without it it’s impossible to have a good quality shave.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Using a single blade to shave with will effortlessly glide through your stubble and leave you with a soft-as-a-baby’s-bum smooth finish. In fact, it’s commonly accepted to give a far better quality shave overall because it is essentially doing the same job as a multi-blade razor but with only 1 blade meaning there’s less stress applied to the skin (say goodbye to razor burn).
And we’ve not got to perhaps the best reason to switch of them all…it’s SO much cheaper!
The latest model of multiblade razor will set you back roughly £15 per pack of 4 (£15.79 at time of writing from Gillette) and each head lasts most men about a week (if they’re lucky). On the other hand, a pack of DE razor blades costs roughly £2 and includes 5 blades, with each blade lasting about 5 shaves on average (some brands can be pushed even further).
So what’s the catch?
We’ve established that you can make a huge dent in your plastic waste by switching to a single blade style of razor, and get a great quality shave, for far less money, so why isn’t everyone doing it?
For one, relatively little marketing goes into selling these types of razors due to them having razor thin margins (pun intended). On the other hand, mass produced plastic disposable razors are sold at a high price and cost pennies to make so companies spend millions marketing only that type of razor that can make them the most money.
The only real negative to this style of razor is the learning curve. Modern razors have pivoting heads, blades held at a specific angle and a wide surface area which makes shaving with them incredibly simple. DE razors require you to learn the correct technique to get the most out of them.
This means they’re not as instantly accessible and your first few shaves may not be as good as you’re used to.
But they’re not at all difficult! It only takes about 3 or 4 training shaves to get the knack and then you’ve got a skill for life that will pay you back with better quality shaves and no plastic waste.
We've broken down step by step everything you need to know to master using a safety razor and, with 1000's of customers that have followed it saying they'd never go back to using a cartridge again, we're confident anyone can make the switch with ease.
- No disposable plastic waste when changing blades
- A better quality shave (less irritation)
- Metal handle lasts a lifetime (no plastic waste there)
- Looks great
- Far far cheaper in the long run
- It has a slight learning curve
In conclusion, swapping to a razor you don’t need to continually throw away will save an enormous amount of plastic, and better yet will result in a superior quality shave that you’re more likely to appreciate and enjoy.
Pick up a proper cut-throat razor and you’ll never need to buy any extra blades again, further reducing your waste.
These are considerably trickier to use and definitely takes some getting used to but once you do you won’t look back. You’ll need to keep it honed with a strop and occasionally sharpen it on a honing stone so there’s a few pieces of equipment you’ll need to pick up, making it expensive at first, but once you’ve got them there’s nothing left to buy other than shaving lather.
You can shave completely plastic-waste free whilst looking like James Bond at the same time.
Bonus Bonus tip
But that’s not the only area where you can reduce your waste. If you’ve been a long-time cartridge shaver you’ve probably used a can of instant foam to shave with.
These are full of nasty chemicals that are bad for the environment and often isn't disposed of properly for recycling.
No matter what type of razor you use, you can easily make the switch to a more natural shaving soap or cream that uses less packaging and will feature ingredients that are kinder on your skin.
If you're interested in lowering your plastic waste through switching up your shaving routine, we have everything you need to get started here.