Can we escape plastic? We are surrounded by it. 50% of the plastic in our lives we use just once before throwing it away. With China having stopped taking Ireland’s tonnes of yearly plastic waste, it’s a problem that’s certainly not going away.
However, there are small changes we can make in our daily lives to tackle the problem, from reusing carrier bags to shopping at local veg shops to cut back on supermarket plastic packaging. When it comes to shaving, swapping from disposables to a DE razor is a basic change that goes a long way in reducing plastic waste. Men and women alike shave regularly; if everyone were to make a small change, the difference could be huge.
WHAT IS A STRAIGHT RAZOR?
Double edge safety razors, often referred to simply as DE razors, are a reusable alternative to plastic disposables. The single blades, replaced as they become dull, are held securely in the razor head at the perfect angle to cut your hair. There is a protective barrier that varies in design – from open and closed comb – that minimises errant cuts from the blades. As with any razor, you need to take care when using it, but the technique is not that different form using a disposable and often provides a closer, more comfortable shave.
There are different mechanisms that hold the blade in place, as well as different brands to choose from, but the basic design means that most DE razors will last for years longer than their plastic counterparts.
We have a complete guide that covers all the details about safety razors including the different varieties, how to choose one for yourself, and how to use them. If you’re going to make the switch and go plastic free, it’s a really useful way to clear up any confusion before making your first purchase.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS
PLASTIC FREE SHAVING
The major environmental benefit is an obvious one; no more disposable plastic razor waste. In the US, two billion razors are thrown away every year, an amount that’s hard to imagine. In Ireland the number is less, but still in the millions. That’s a huge amount of unnecessary plastic sitting in dumps and making its way into the world’s ecosystems.
Plastic takes, on average, around 1000 years to degrade.
Switching to a DE razor puts an end to that plastic waste.
There are other reusable alternatives to disposable razors. However, many of these still have plastic elements and although they can be reused by replacing the blades, they ultimately don’t last as long as DE razors. When you do need to dispose of them, it still creates plastic waste, and the plastic packaging these razors and their refills come in is often very unnecessary.
Many safety razors are made entirely of metal. Not only does this mean they last longer and feel really great to use, but they reduce the waste that comes with even ‘reusable’ razors.
When you use a double edge safety razor, you will have to replace the blades in order to keep them sharp and to ensure you continue to get a good shave. Cartridge blades are often made of a mixture of plastic, metal, lubricating strips and rubber – most of which can’t be recycled. On the other hand, DE razor blades are just metal, made from stainless steel. These can be recycled (please dispose of carefully and check with your local council to find out where) and therefore produce no plastic waste at all.
Another benefit to making the switch is the shaving soap you use. When switching to a safety razor, we usually recommend using a good quality shaving soap or cream which you whip into a lather yourself. These are much more environmentally friendly than those found in the pressurised cans. You can buy shaving soap refills, as opposed to whole new pots, to further reduce the packaging waste.
Proper shaving soap can also produce a closer shave than ready-to-spray foam, helping you achieve a superior shave.
BENEFITS TO YOUR SHAVE
A safety razor isn’t just a great option for the environment, many people finds it also produces a better shave. It’s a win-win situation. A safety razor blade can get closer to your skin and the base of your hairs, producing a closer shave that results in a smoother look and feel. Whether you’re shaving your beard or your legs, the results are often noticeably better.