Shaving is part of everyday life for the majority of men as well as for many women. In the 21st century, when so many people are looking at their choices and actions from an environmental perspective, the subject of the greenest type of razors has become a hot topic. In this article, we will look at reusable vs disposable razors from both an environmental and a cost perspective.
Possibly the biggest environmental aspect of the modern razor is that so much plastic is used to manufacture them. Plastic is made from petrochemicals and oil is quickly becoming a diminishing resource of the earth. Plastic does not break down easily when dumped in landfill and so this material will be around for a very long time, littering the planet. Even though some razors are made using recycled plastics, most will still end up in landfill.
Let’s look at disposable razors first. These are the ultimate in convenience in the modern throw-away world. They are cheap to buy, give you a reasonable shave and can simply be thrown out after a few uses. You will only get a few good shaves from a disposable razor, so you have to continually buy new ones. Even though they are relatively cheap to buy, because you need to replace them frequently, the cost per year can really add up. You cannot buy replacement blades for a disposable razor so you have to throw out the whole thing. This makes them a most unsatisfactory shaving solution from an environmental point of view. With over two billion disposable razors sold in the US every year, they are an environmental nightmare.
The disposable razor is a modern version of the old safety razor, which is a reusable type of razor. These have been around for more than a century and consist of a handle and blade assembly, traditionally made of metal, so they last for a long time. When the razor blades get blunt, you replace them, making this a good green option that saves you money. They are more difficult to source but expect to pay between $25 and $100; you might be able to find them at antique stores. Modern blades will fit these older style razors and only cost around fifty cents each.
The Half Green Razor
The top razor manufacturers like Gillett and Schick have taken the old safety razor to new heights with modern-day marketing to match. These companies have developed shaving systems that are advertized as giving the smoothest, cleanest shave with a price tag to match. You have to buy the matching replacement razor blades, which often come in special cartridges that only fit one particular model of razor. But at least you don’t have to throw the whole razor away when it becomes blunt, so from a green perspective, they are a better option than the fully disposable variety. The original purchase price of the shaving system may be a bit steep but at least you only have to buy new blades, which are less expensive.
The Electric Razor
While many men say that an electric razor doesn’t do a good enough job, millions of people swear by them as a practical and convenient shaving option. These reusable razors are powered by either battery or electricity, taking the hard work out of the daily shave as well as saving time. They last for some time and cost anything from $50 to $200, depending on brand and the additional features that may be included in some models. Sometimes spare parts are available but these are often more expensive than a new electric razor so they get thrown away anyway. However, you certainly will get many more shaves from this type of reusable razor, making them a greener option than other types.
The Straight Razor
The greenest and most cost-effective shaving solution would have to be the straight razor, also known as the cut-throat razor, a name that doesn’t really encourage anyone to use one! These are the razors you see being used in the barber shops of old movies. Proponents of the straight razor claim that they give the best, closest shave of any razor ever invented. While a new one may cost you more than $100, there is almost no waste involved because they last for years and years. They are the ultimate in reusable razors. You will also need a sharpening strap, traditionally called a strop, and you might like to go the whole hog and get yourself a shaving cup, soap and a badger hair shaving brush as well. Once you have all the gear, though, the only additional cost is more soap when you have used it up. There is a skill involved in shaving with a straight razor so be prepared to put in some practise time until you master the art.
So there you have it; the facts of reusable vs disposable razors. Try and avoid throw-away disposable razors to be green and save money. Any other option is better but treat yourself to the joy of a really close shave and invest in a straight razor for the greenest option that will definitely save you money.
So, what kind of razor do you use?