The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that Americans toss 2 billion disposable razors annually. That’s mountains of plastic (not to mention blades) that pile up in landfills with little chance of biodegrading in the foreseeable future, and considering one razor only lasts a couple weeks before the blade wears down, they’re no bargain.

Environmentally, a slightly better alternative is a reusable plastic razor that takes replacement blade cartridges. That way you’re only tossing the small cartridges and not the whole razor. Even so, you’re still generating waste. And companies usually offer a great deal on the razor itself but gouge you on refill cartridges. Even worse, cartridges often come boxed in excessive cardboard and plastic packaging.

According to a New York Times Magazine article, one environmentally sensible option is to use a safety razor. Those metal razors with double-edge blades offer a good value and go a long way toward curbing waste. The author of the article reported that “his chrome-finished razor cost $33 and will probably last for decades. The blades come in a 100-pack for $10 that keeps him supplied for more than a year. Another bonus: razors are austerely wrapped in wax paper and a minimalist cardboard box. Even better, they’re made of recyclable stainless steel.”

A greener option could be the straight-edge razor, because they’re virtually waste-free (assuming you use a traditional model that doesn’t take replaceable blades). Plus, users swear by the close shave and by using straight-edge razors, there’s no more tossing old blades, no packaging waste and no recurring expense. You’ll need to sharpen the blade periodically and keep it clean and dry, but it should last for years, if not a lifetime.

With electric shavers, there’s an upfront cost to purchase the shaving unit, but the blades, if cared for properly, only need to be replaced every couple of years. Yes, that means tossing them out, but whatever waste you generate may be offset by the water you save with a dry shave. And, if you buy a solar-charging model, you also avoid using electricity.

For those times when only a razor with disposable blades will do, you can lower your eco-footprint by opting for a recycled content model like this one from Preserve. It’s created from 100-percent recycled #5 plastic that’s fully recyclable after use. Plus, the packaging is made of renewable materials and can be reused as a travel case.


The above post is excerpted from an article by Sidney Stevens published on May 15, 2017.