Zero Waste Shaving

Zero Waste Shaving

Shaving is an inevitable for most. Whether it’s armpits, legs, beard, or head, most people in the United States are shaving at some point in their lifetime. With the spread of western ideals, for better or worse, shaving is expected to increase globally over the next 10+ years. The most common, accessible way to shave is by using a disposable razor.

Disposable razors are non-recyclable mixed material items that inevitably end up in your local landfill once the blades become dull. The Environmental Protection Agency reported in 1990 that around 2 billion disposable razors and blades are thrown out every year in the United States. They haven’t updated this statistic since then, but I think we all know that the number is likely much higher.

I’ve been shaving since middle school, and although I’m passionate about the unrealistic beauty standards that people are forced into, I still choose to shave regularly. As a woman who shaves a few times a month, I can realistically spend anywhere from $50-$100/year on disposable razor refills.

For reference, the price of a Gillette Venus pack of 4 disposable razor refills at Target is $9.99. That’s for the standard razor heads, not the ones with the fancy lotion lining around the sides to make for a smoother shave which cost about $19.99 for a pack of 4. Companies like “Flamingo” and “Billie” have also emerged in recent years, presenting a more sleek, fashionable product that sells for a higher price, but are still made of plastic. 

There is a mentality that recycling is acceptable. Now, don’t get me wrong, recycling should be done, but only as a last ditch effort. Most recyclable materials, around 80%, go to a landfill because there is such poor education on what products are actually recyclable in what areas. I would be lying to you if I said I knew the ins and outs of what is recyclable in my city. It gets complicated and most people aren’t spending their free time reading up on local recycling protocols.

So, being a conscious consumer and choosing to buy life-long products is something the individual can do to lead a zero-waste life. That’s what led me here. I’ve decided to get rid of my plastic razor, after using up the rest of my refills, and switched to an all metal, refillable safety razor.

But, the first thing that interested me about safety razors was actually not the eco-friendliness of the product. It was the hundreds and hundreds of reviews, from all genders, expressing the quality of the shave. I think most people have experienced razor burn, razor bumps, ingrown hairs, or itchiness as hair re-grows. The claims from people using safety razors sounded a bit too good to be true. But the more youtube videos I watched and blog posts I read about the topic, the more I was convinced this is a universal truth for people who shave. I committed to buying a safety razor because I wanted the extra sharp shave with no nasty side-effects. 

There are two types of eco-friendly safety razors:

  1. The first is the traditional safety razor and the second is the Leaf Shave razor. The traditional safety razor has no brand. There are thousands of manufacturers who sell these and they’re easily found at your local zero waste store or online. Safety razors do not have a “bendy” head like a traditional disposable razor would. Because of this, you have to shave at a very specific angle in order to properly shave without cutting yourself. Safety razors are also double sided, meaning there are blades that come from both sides, similar to a pickaxe shape.

  2. The second is The Leaf Shave razor which combines the eco-friendly model with the disposable model. The Leaf Shave razor is a type of safety razor that uses the same razor blades as a traditional safety razor but has a bendable head like a disposable razor. This decreases the fear factor for the user because the razor contours and moves depending on the body shape, but it still has the sharp blades that will give you that one of a kind shave without plastic waste. 

After researching both of these options, I ultimately decided to buy the Leaf Shave razor. The two biggest factors in my decision were cost and ease of use. While the Leaf Shave razor will cost double the price, it’s much easier to use than a traditional safety razor. If you want to go zero waste on a tighter budget, I would definitely suggest buying a traditional safety razor.

I ordered my Leaf Shave razor online and received it quickly in all compostable packaging. In addition to the compostable, plastic-free packaging, the company fully offsets their carbon emissions and financially supports climate action. The razor came with an instruction guide and a small box which held a handful of razor blades. It’s incredibly easy to install the blades as they’re magnetic. No need to worry about dropping a razor blade and losing it.

Since it was my first time using a safety razor, I decided to shave outside of the shower to be extra diligent and careful not to cut myself. I used my bathroom sink and a bar of soap from one of my favorite black-owned businesses (seriously, they’re amazing) and got started. The first thing I noticed was the weight of the handle. This definitely feels strange the first time you pick it up. It will take getting used to but it also feels very sturdy and long-lasting, which is the point. The blades are super sharp and definitely got a much closer shave than I’ve ever experienced. And, I didn’t cut myself! I can definitley see how you might cut yourself if you’re not careful, but I have also cut myself with a plastic razor, so it didn’t feel like anything new.

This is an alternative that’s almost identical to what you’re probably using now, but zero-waste. The initial cost seems like a lot, they retail for about $90, but if you’re able to make the investment initially it will save you money and save the environment in the long run. 

In addition, when I ordered my razor, I received an email confirmation that included some really cool information about the brand. The email was actually from the co-founder of the company and I was able to respond back and speak to him directly about the product and about my blog. I think any company that puts thoughtfulness into all compostable packaging and personal interactions like this are the companies we should be supporting as conscious consumers. 

If you’re looking to make the switch to zero waste shaving & making your bathroom a zero waste space think about swapping your razor to a sustainable alternative. Plus, follow along my blogging journey to see what other changes I make in the future.