My friend Cynthia asked me awhile back about razors, wondering what razor offers the least environmental impact. It’s a good question and my answer is: it depends.
Let’s start with this: single use disposables are definitely out. Even if you manage to use these for a week before the blades dull, you’re still throwing out an entire razor. That’s a lot of plastic waste.
An old-fashioned straight edge razor is probably the best choice as far as generating the least amount of waste. The blade can be sharpened when it dulls, extending the life of the blade, plus they’re often made of stainless steel – no plastic. Unfortunately, I have a hard time clearing the horror movie images of such a knife from my mind, so I’ll not be adopting this hygiene method anytime soon. Shudder.
I was surprised to see that safety razors are still available. I thought they’d been rendered obsolete. It appears that these are still primarily made of metal and utilize double edged razors. There’s very little waste with these, too – just the razor blade itself.
Personally, I use a disposable blade razor with a stainless steel handle. With these, I only have to toss the blade when it wears out. Of course, I don’t shave daily like many men do, but I’d say I only go through two or three blades in a year. I just discovered that there are razor blade sharpeners for these types of razors, but based on my usage, it would take me years before I threw out as much solid waste as the bulk of material in the sharpener itself. I don’t know if it’s worth it.
Electric razors are another choice. The blades on these seem to last a good long time, but there is much more material used in manufacturing these – plus they require electricity. If they’re the type that run on a battery charge, there’s safe disposal to consider, too.
If I were to have to replace my razor (doubtful, unless I actually lose it)? It seems like a safety razor would be the most environmentally sound option. The folks at Preserve make a triple razor that is made of recycled materials and is recyclable where facilities are available, but in the end, it’s still plastic so I don’t know if I’d go that route.
What about you? What do you think is the most environmentally sound razor option? Am I missing any?
Photo by ChrisL_AK via Flickr, CC by 2.0