A Guide to Eco-Friendly Shaving | Plastic-Free Razors
You might not realize it, but humans produce A LOT of waste from their shaving routines.
In fact, the EPA estimated that in the 1990’s we threw away about two billion disposable razors. That number has since risen to over 2 billion razors ending up in landfill each year.
That’s about one million pounds of plastic waste.
It seems that multi-blade cartridge razors are the most wasteful products that we use in our bathrooms.
What can we do to tackle this growing problem of razors in our landfills?
Top eco-friendly bloggers such as Zero Waste Home often preach the benefits of using a non-disposable, “lifetime” razor and the reduced impact of a hard shaving soap over a shaving cream.
Today, we’ll compare the differences between plastic disposable razors and metal safety razors to see how much of an impact it can have.
Environmental Impacts Of Plastic Disposable Razors
Plastic razors are known for having a much shorter life cycle than safety razors.
In general, plastic razors contribute to a disposable, throwaway society.
It is estimated that the average disposable razor cartridge should only be used about 6-9 times before being thrown away.
This means that after every purchase of a disposable razor, in about 2-3 weeks, they’ll be on their way to the landfill.
There has to be some sort of sustainable recycling program to handle all these plastic multi-blade razors being thrown away, right?
Attempts to Properly Dispose of Plastic Disposable Razors
In 2011, BIC launched a mail back program in France to collect disposable razors and properly recycle of them.
However, there were no plans to push this project to the United States. The cost of infrastructure and resources to replicate in the US is far too large for BIC to take on this challenge.
So How Do The Rest Of Us Recycle Disposable Razors?
The bulk of a disposable razor is non-biodegradable, leading to billions of pieces of hazardous waste ending up in landfill every year.
Razor blades will rust away into nothing, leaving behind the plastic handle and casing for dozens, perhaps hundreds of years.
At this time, there is simply no straightforward way to dispose of plastic razors in an eco-friendly way.
Environmental Impacts Of Safety Razors
Unlike disposable razors, safety razors are built to last a lifetime.
Safety razor collectors purchase and use old Gillette safety razors from the early 1900’s, and some even claim to be using the same razor for over 110 years.
Not all safety razors are indestructible, but they’re still a major improvement over disposable razors. When considering longevity, we recommend choosing a pure stainless steel safety razor, like the Rockwell 6S.
Since the razor itself lasts so long, only the razor blades need to be recycled. Unlike multi-blade razors, standard double-edge safety razor blades are fully-recyclable and eco-friendly.
The Body Of Safety Razors
Safety razors are typically made out of steel or a chromed zinc alloy.
When the razor does reach the end of its useful life, there are plenty of ways to properly dispose of the body of the razor.
Even if you drop your metal safety razor on a granite floor and it breaks, companies like Rockwell will be happy to send you a replacement to prevent you from having to switch back to plastic razors.
As for other brands of safety razors, metal scrap yards or local recycling businesses will be glad to take the used razor off your hands.
The Razor Blades
Rockwell’s Swedish Stainless Steel Razor blades are rust-proof and typically last anywhere from 5 -7 shaves (depending on your skin and hair type).
Typically, waste management stations don’t recommend recycling such small pieces of metal due to regulatory reasons, which is why blade banks were invented.
Blade banks are storage containers for your used safety razor blades to be stored over the duration of a 6-months to a year, and once full, you can properly recycle the entire container - it couldn’t be easier!
It’s clear that we as humans need to reconsider the sustainable nature of our grooming routines.
It requires a small upfront investment but pays off in a major way in the long run.
With everyone’s shared efforts, a significant reduction in waste build-up can be achieved over time.
The safety razor is a tried and true zero-waste tool for anyone and has proven to be essential for achieving an eco-friendly shave regimen.
Beyond the reduced environmental footprint, there are a plethora of reasons you should consider switching to a safety razor, including; significant savings over time, improved skin quality and with an adjustable safety razor, a reduced chance of nicks and cuts.
If you’re looking to make the switch to eco-friendly shaving, make sure to take our survey and get $5 off your next purchase.
I use a Rockwell 6S Safety razor so I need no convincing.