Sometimes I try out a product and the product is just fine, but it isn’t a good fit for me. This area I’ll discuss today is one where I want to reduce my personal waste generation, but I haven’t found the right product fit for me to make a sustainable product shift. That being said – this product might be a great fit for you. The area in question is razors and shaving!
I know the facts on plastic waste generated from razors – it’s not pretty. I don’t use a fully disposable razor, but I do use disposable razor heads. The plastic adds up.
Ditching Cartridge Razors Entirely
I decided to give an old school safety razor a try and discovered the Albatross Shave Shop. Safety razors utilize steel blades that you remove and replace from the razor. The entire body of the razor is something you keep and reuse – you only replace the blades. Used blades are also accepted back by the company for recycling.
The razor is beautifully designed and is easy to swap out blades in – you simply twist the bottom and the top of the razor (its protective casing opens) and you can add a blade carefully into place.
Safety razors were the norm in shaving for a looooong time, it’s only been in recent decades that we’ve moved toward the concept of disposables. There are a few more upfront costs in buying a razor this way as the handle and original starter set of blades is around $30. Replacement blades are incredibly inexpensive though – you’re talking about $7-12 yearly in costs.
Albatross accepts used blades (they even provide return packaging) to be returned to them by mail through their Blade Take Back Program. They then recycle them appropriately and even develop recycled products from the metal – such as their Take Back Ware travel cutlery. These would be a great addition to your purse or your Zero Waste Car Kit!
The ethos and the mission behind this company, as well as the product design is top notch – I just really struggled with the learning curve of using a safety razor safely. There’s a great how-to article here on HOW to use a safety razor from another razor company, Rockwell. I think for individuals who may use razors to shave larger surface areas (like your legs vs. your face) it’s important to note that you WILL risk cutting yourself if you approach it the same way that you do using a cartridge razor. The basics are:
- No making multiple passes without reapplying shaving cream
- Hold the razor at a 30-45 degree angle from your skin
- Don’t press down onto the razor like you would with a cartridge razor
- Only shave a few inches in each pass – don’t go up your entire leg in one go
- Try shaving with the grain of the hair (rather than against it) for a less abrasive shaving experience
Shaving with a safety razor takes significantly more time. I typically shave in the shower and like it to go quickly. You have to set aside time to shave with a safety razor. Maybe this is time to treat as a self care experience and apply a face mask while you dedicate more time to shaving with a safety razor. I’d say it averaged for me about 20-30 minutes to shave my legs – but I was also slow going because I had never used a safety razor before.
I gave my Albatross razor a try for about three months and never quite got the hang of it – I was constantly nicking myself! It’s probably a user error and I probably could get the hang of it with more time committed. I’m thinking now that maybe I could actually make shaving less of a chore and set aside time to commit to listening to my favorite music, having a glass of wine and doing a facemask while I spend 20-30 minutes shaving. Definitely a habit shift.
Not Ready to Fully Ditch Cartridge Razors?
Gillette launched a Razor Recycling program in cooperation with Terra Cycle where you can collect your disposable razors, cartridge razors and packaging and ship it to them for recycling. You do have to pay the costs of shipping your products to Gillette, but there is no cost for them to process the items. There is currently a waitlist to get into the Gillette Razor Recycling program, but you can join the waitlist here.
What are you Lathering Up Before you Shave?
One more are we can’t skip in discussing a shaving regimen is what you use for shaving cream. I discovered this year that I actually prefer a non-pressurized shaving lotion more than I liked the aerosol creams. What’s up next for me is trying a shaving soap. Bar soaps come without the pesky plastic or aerosol packaging and there’s a large variety of them on the market. Aerosols and plastics are recyclable, but why generate more waste if we don’t need to?
I discovered that one of my favorite soap and facial care companies, Zum Lab – makes a shaving soap bar! Definitely going to give this a try in lieu of packaged creams or aerosol cans.
The experience has been eye opening for me to say the least – I’m rethinking the way I approach shaving and hope to find ways to reduce packaging production and single use waste generation through some habit shifts.