Razors, a familiar product that most of us probably use on a regular basis. Have you ever contemplated the intricate design of these disposable items though? Most disposable razors and replaceable razor-heads are composed of a mixture of metal, plastic, and other miscellaneous pieces and parts that hold it all together. These razors are generally designed in a way that makes it difficult to separate these components safely, making it a tough product to recycle. Every year, Americans toss out 2 billion disposable razors due to this manufacturing design.
So what goes into the process of producing these everyday items anyway? For starters, many raw materials are needed to construct the different components of the razor. Then, at a manufacturing plant halfway around the world, these parts are often fixed together in a way which makes it almost impossible to separate the basic materials once again. After all of this, the razors are shipped overseas using fossil fuels to power their journey to the consumer.
The average lifespan of a disposable razor is roughly 10-50 uses. So depending on how often you shave, one disposable razor or razor-head could last from a little over a week to several years. Still, there has got to be a better solution than simply prolonging the lifespan of something that will inevitably end up in a landfill anyway.
Some companies are now producing disposable razors with handles that are not only made out of recycled material but are also recyclable after use. Preserve provides a program in which you can send in any of your #5 plastic products you have bought from their company and they will recycle them for you. According to Recycle Nation, Whole Foods has partnered with this company and provides collection bins at many of their store locations. Preserve hopes to one day have a razor blade recycling system as well. Another initiative by Bikini Soft allows you to return your disposable razors and used shaving cream bottles in the box that they were shipped to you in, free of charge.
An even more eco-friendly shaving method is using a straight razor. Straight razors are composed of a single steel blade and are not only completely recyclable but can actually last a lifetime if properly cared for. Admittedly, this method does take more skill and time to perfect but if you are willing to invest some energy into reducing your ecological impact, this may be a good choice for you! Electric razors are also a great option due to their relatively long life-span and the lack of need for hot water (a very large proponent of energy consumption).
Many waste-free advocates have also begun shaving with safety razors; a more expensive alternative averaging at about $50. These razors are usually composed of stainless steel making it completely recyclable and also giving it a very long life-span. Replacement blades are also significantly less expensive than disposable razor-head cartridges. To recycle these razor blades, you must buy or construct a blade bank (you can do this using an old steel can) which will contain these small sharp objects within the recycling facility so that no one is in danger of getting injured while sorting the materials.
Overall, there are many eco-friendly methods to reduce your impact without abandoning the habit of shaving altogether. However, if you are willing to do so, kudos to you!
Happy shaving everyone!