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Zero Waste Shaving: Safety Razors

Zero Waste Shaving: Safety Razors

Zero Waste Bathroom

Last Updated on June 2, 2020

Zero waste was once relegated for only the most devout hippies. You know the ones I’m talking about – they live entirely off-grid, grow all of their own food, and wear strange sweaters. 

And, to be honest, that sounds pretty damn appealing. I do love a strange sweater.

This post was sponsored by Eco Roots all thoughts and opinions are my own for more information please see my disclosure policy.

But, I also like getting dressed up. I like a little glamour in my life. I’ve always been interested in fashion, makeup, and jewelry. In general, I think there’s a misconception when it comes to sustainable living. People think they need to change who they are, but really it’s about embracing who you are in a sustainable way.

The Earth doesn’t need carbon copies of people in strange sweaters – the Earth needs YOU. And, it needs you exactly as you are.

For me, that means pink feminine clothing, make-up, and a lot of show tunes.

My ‘be yourself’ anthem brings me to the topic for which you are all here – SHAVING + other forms of eco-friendly hair removal. 

Eco Roots is an eco-conscious minimalist brand that’s based in Colorado. They’re a small, zero-waste shop that makes sure all of their products are ethically and sustainably sourced.

They ship all of their products in recyclable and upcycled materials – completely plastic-free! But, my favorite part of Eco Roots is that they donate a portion of each sale to Ocean Conservancy.

I always look for companies that give back, to me, it means that they truly care about the environment, and they’re not just trying to sell products to take advantage of how popular the eco-friendly movement has become.

Here’s a few of my favorite items from their store!

shaving:

When I first started going zero waste I was asked if I’d give up shaving.

And, if you have given up shaving, more power to you. I’m so happy that you’ve found something that works for you, but it’s just not for me.

I love having super, silky smooth legs.

The EPA estimates 2 billion razors are thrown away each year. Eek! Razors are practically impossible to recycle so I get why people asked it.

RELATED: Zero Waste Shaving Kit

According to this guide, I found on the Venus Website we should be burning through razors pretty quickly.

If you shave daily, switch your blades out every 1 to 2 weeks. If you shave every other day, switch your blades out every 2 to 3 weeks. If you shave twice a week, switch your blades out every 4 to 6 weeks.

Beyond just the environmental cost, (I mean that is A LOT of razors headed to the landfill) can we talk about the cost, cost?

One Venus Razor Body is $11.99, and a set of four refills is $18.95.Assuming you switch your blades out every three weeks (which is average from above) you’ll spend about $100 on shaving each year.

Most girls start shaving their legs around 12 and tend to stop shaving in their 60s. That’s about 50 years of shaving and $5,000.

And, I can hear you now, “But, Kathryn! You shave!” Yes, yes, I do and I cannot WAIT to introduce you to my preferred method that:

  1. Involves zero waste
  2. Costs pennies
  3. Results in the closest shave
  4. Reduces razor burn!

Introducing the SAFETY RAZOR! I am a very vocal proponent and tell everyone to switch ALL. THE. TIME.

I am partial to this rose gold safety razor. Pink, feminine, and shaving with a single blade does make me feel very Sweeny Todd. Plus, it makes my bathroom look upscale and fancy.

So, let’s get to the good stuff…

Safety razors are made from stainless steel so if it does ever break, it’s fully recyclable. But, the likely chance of it breaking is very unlikely. You can still find antique safety razors for sale that work from 70 years ago.

The initial razor costs $32 and a pack of 10 blades is $3.50. If you change your blade every 3 weeks you’ll be spending about $6 on blades a year. Over the course of 50 years, including the purchase of the razor, you’re looking at $332.

Which would you rather pay $5,000 or $332?

And, what makes this even better is that it’s a closer shave, better for the environment and better for your skin.

We’ve been told that more blades = a better shave, but that’s just not true. A single blade will give you an extremely close shave, and it’s better if you tend to suffer from ingrown hairs and razor burn.

Interestingly enough, shaving is having quite the renaissance. Barbershops are starting to offer old-fashioned hot shaves reminiscent of the 19th century, and it’s becoming rather common for people to switch back to the safety razor.

how do I not cut myself?

I know, shaving with a safety razor can seem VERY intimidating at first. I’m not going to lie I was definitely a fraidy cat when it came to using mine at first.

But, I’ve only cut myself once, and it was when I dropped the razor. I’ve never cut myself while actually shaving.

You’ll definitely want to get a shave soap or a soap with a lot of lather. Hold the safety razor at a 30-degree angle and use short strokes.

Don’t press down or apply pressure – the blade should just glide.

PRO TIP: Figure out how much water you’re using! For me, I save water if I shave in the bath. My bathtub holds about 30 gallons of water so if I shower longer than six minutes, I save water by taking a bath.

Other favorite additions to bath time is following up with lavender body oil.

what about razor blades:

In order to recycle razor blades, you’ll need to take them to a transfer station that handles metal recycling with machines only.

If you’re in Northern California, I go to the Concord Recycling Center. Get a steel can that contains broth only. Cut a slot in the top of the can big enough for a blade to slip through, and pour the broth out. Rinse with water and leave the can to dry for a day or two. 

Obviously, there’s no way of completely guaranteeing it to be dry, but that’s alright. Drop you used blades into the slot. Once it’s full put a piece of tape over the slot and take it to your nearest metal recycling facility.

electric razor/trimmers: 

Justin has a beard so he keeps everything trimmed with a really nice electric razor. I’ve never been a big fan of using an electric razor on my legs though. I always found that it pulled and hurt. Would love to know if you’ve had a good experience though! 

epilator: 

Epilators are small hand held devices that pulls the hairs out of your legs similar to waxing, it can be painful.

laser: 

Of course, laser hair removal is a pretty extreme option, but could be right  for some! 

sugar waxing: 

Sugar waxing is really popular in the zero waste community. I don’t really trust myself to wax myself, but if you’re feeling so bold – go for it!

not shaving:

And, of course you could just not shave! 

How do you shave? Or do you? Have you used any of the methods above? I would love to hear about it!

I want to give another big thank you to Eco Roots for sponsoring this blog post. If you’re in the market for some new zero-waste supplies and are looking for an alternative to Amazon, look no further! This way you can guarantee that you’re products will come #PlasticFree!

CHECK OUT THEIR SHOP!

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  1. I stopped shaving and get waxes done periodically. Over the years, its sort of paid off and I can get away with waxing once every 4 months.

    Thanks for making a post on disposable razors. We didnt have the disposables in India and I was surprised to find them so affordable in America. They are a sort of luxury in India.

    Zero waste has become synonymous with make-EVERY-THING-your-self. Its frustrating ! Deodorant for example. The right proportion of baking soda, oil, clay works. My mix has become rock solid in the winter and I currently cant use it. I have to experiment many many times before I find the right consistency for me that works as a deo. Same with dry shampoo. Its time taking and I have made bad batches. We are not experts at everything. Thoughts ?

    1. We have a lot of shops in the Bay Area where you can find items like that in bulk. But, most people don’t have those options available. I enjoy making products myself and constantly experimenting to make it completely zero waste. But, if you don’t enjoy it, then find the best options for you. Maybe that’s buying products from local vendors or etsy. Or maybe it’s buying commercial products in recyclable packaging. Whatever works best for you. If it’s something that stresses you out or something you don’t enjoy, then you’re not likely to keep up with it. Choose the best option to make your life enjoyable. 🙂

  2. Do you use the one you linked from Life Without Plastic? Using up my last few plastic razors, then making the switch to reusable–and I can’t wait! Curious to hear about which brand you have and if you like it.

    1. Funny story. Thought I had the one from life with plastic. Turns out, I don’t! Lol. It was a gift. I fully trust the one from Life Without Plastic. They always have really solid products and they fully inspect all of the factories they buy from for quality. I really respect their store. When I buy online – they’re who I turn to. Hope that helps. Mine is unadjustable and long handled very similar to the one I linked. I buy shark blades, which aren’t sold on LWP. I don’t like that the ones they sell come in a plastic box, but they do sound like stellar blades. Platinum coated… oh la la. 😉

      1. Awesome–you are the best! I love LWP too. Expect more queries when it comes time for me to start buying blades…you sound like you’ve got it DOWN! 🙂

  3. I enjoyed reading this post, especially after the recent end of No Shave November. I’ve had a beard now for about a year, and I don’t have to feel bad about throwing away disposable razors!

    1. That’s awesome! I recently found out no shave November was started by a charity to spend the money you would be spending on shaving and donating it to cancer research! I had no idea! I thought it was just a college thing all the boys did. Lol.

  4. Awesome to see you using double edged razor. Aren’t they great!? You aren’t really paying $1 per blade, are you? At Maggard’s, the best resource for double edge razors they have 5 for $1.25, and if you by a 100 pack on amazon is is only $11 and will last ages.

  5. Is it possible to travel with the razor? My husband bought a safety razor and I am thinking about it. We have only had it in our check in luggage but next time we will only travel with handluggage. Do you know if it is ok to have it in the handluggage on airplanes?
    Thanks for your help! 🙂

  6. I love baths! I often chose a bath over a shower and do the same thing with bringing small hand-wash items with me. My only issue is, sometimes I find myself to not feel so clean after and I want to shower to rinse myself off…but then it defeats the whole purpose! I usually deal with it, go to bed and take a 2-minute shower to rinse off and wash my face the next morning but do you have a certain method in the bath? Do you shave last and handwash your clothes once you get out of the bath to avoid "laying in your own filth" as my roommates like to say, haha!

    1. I wash my clothes first using dr. b. And, since it’s an all in one soap I don’t mind it being everywhere. I don’t really feel dirty being in the bath. But if you do, do a quick 30 second rinse!

  7. Hi, don’t know if you still check the comments on this post but I would love to know what you recommend safety razor wise… I’m looking to buy but I want something to last!

  8. Someone asked a similar question below, but do you have any suggestions for a zero waste option for carry-on travel?

    1. I must have missed that one! You can bring the body on a flight, but you can’t bring the blade with you. You could try and buy a blade at your destination, but I don’t know how well that would work out depending on your location. If I were going on an extended beach vaycay, I would probably get waxed before going on the trip. Sorry to not be much help!

  9. Thanks for the informative post! I had found a secondhand safety razor for $5(!) so I snapped it up. Unfortunately I didn’t know enough about razors to know that it took single-edge blades, which are a lot harder to come by and have to be shipped to me. I bought a secondhand double-edge safety razor this week which is great so far. Just wondering though, do you recycle your used blades? How do you go about it (safety wise)?

    1. Great question! You can buy a razor blade tin. We have one at work for Exacto knives You put the blades in and when it’s full you plug it and it creates a steel pack so it can safely be melted down.

  10. For ladies: how do you shave your nether regions with a safety razor? I really want to make the switch but honestly I’m terrified of cutting myself, especially in sensitive areas. Thanks!

    1. I use an Edwin Jagger Razor with a blunt Astra blade for my nether region, after about two weeks of using it for my legs and underarms. I’ve never cut myself.

  11. There’s a movement to shift towards shaving strops to keep your razors in great condition, just make sure you start with a high quality blade. Check out clevershave.com for options.

  12. There are two razors offered on the Life Without Plastic site; adjustable for about $100 and non adjustable for about $50. What adjustments do you make on a razor and why? I’d like to purchase one but now I’m faced with confusing options! Help! Ahhh!

  13. You could look at one of the sites such as the Shave Den, or Badger & Blade, to get more information on shaving and razors. For a woman, the longer handle razors such as the Lady Gillette (can be found on E-Bay for 18-30 after shipping) work well, and they’re Twist To Open. As for blades, even buying from Amazon, Shark blades shouldn’t cost more than $10 for a box of 100. I picked up one for $7 on E-Bay. Astra SP are popular, and there are lots and lots. I suspect you got the $1 per blade price from looking at Walgreens or Krogers. For the person with the Single Edge razor, the blades can be bought at both CVS and Walgreens in the shaving section. Just don’t try to use the ones from the hardware store :).

  14. For Australians: the Shavershop have a in house brand safety razor that’s only AU$29.95! They also seem to sell the double edge blades in 10 packs for AU$3-5
    Not sure if they have plastic packaging or not – I’ll be sussing it out soon and I’ll try to remember to update this comment thread.
    (A bit silly that its under ‘mens’ and the ‘womens’ products have no plastic free options lol)
    https://www.shavershop.com.au/shaver-shop/safety-razor-008610.html#q=safety%2Brazor&lang=en_AU&start=1

  15. I purchased and am using a safety razor. I have to get the hang of it as I nicked my legs a few times (always on the boney part). Any helpful pointers? In spite of the nicks, I love it! It does give you a very close shave, is totally a lot more cost effective, and very sustainable! Thank you for posting this alternative to disposables!

  16. Thank you for the information/spreading the news concerning this cognitive-dissonance-free alternative to "disposable" shaving! (I purchased a safety razor ten minutes after reading this.) I did want to note however that, maybe through key word matching, Google Ads posted a "Harry’s" disposable razor ad near the top of your article, causing me some initial confusion and seeming to counter your positive push towards earth conscious living by advertising their unsustainable product. If possible to sidestep that ad I think this article would be perfect : )
    Thank you again for the article : )

  17. Its illegal to recycle safety razor blades. They pose extreme health risks to the workers at recycling plants.

    1. I live in the US and talked to a recycling center (special metal facility, not the curbside pickup) and they just asked me to place the blades in boxes. I’m waiting to get a bunch to take them in, so I haven’t been yet.

  18. I went and bought a safety razor. Even with a pristine sharp blade it rips my face to pieces and I’m covered in bits of paper now to stem the blood. These razors may not be for everyone, especially if you have delicate skin.

    1. Shave twice a week with the safety at first. Your skin will actually toughen up. Then when you don’t look like Lizzy Borden’s Dad, add a day. Do that until your using it every day. It works

  19. "You know something I haven’t given up – shaving. You know something I won’t give up – shaving."

    Why should anyone give it up?

  20. When I was 3-4 years old, Dad had a safety razor. I’d sit on the closed lid of the toilet and watch my idol shave. SO cool! If he wasn’t rushed, he’d sneak out the blade and ask if I needed a shave? I always said yes and he would run the empty blade head under hot water so it would “touch” my face like a blade. Awesome experience! Dad’s 94 and uses disposables bc I have the safety razor now. When my daughter was 3-4, she “learned” to shave her legs like I shaved my face. No doubt that tradition will continue down the line

  21. PJ, thats a Parker 95R Safety Razor, I have had my Parker 99r safety razor for a little over 10 years and it still shaves like the day I first used it. I also have a 95R and my wife uses the Parker 29L safety razor on her legs. There are a good price and quality razor, best of all, no plastic waste.

  22. I read an article that went viral about a girl who went zero waste and had only accumulated a few stickers from fruit over a prolonged period of time. That seems to have stuck with me over the years, and I am now conscious (feel somewhat guilty at times) about my trash waste. I switched to a DE razor about two years ago (Edwin Jagger), and I haven’t looked back since. I did it mainly for the cost effectiveness of DE razors, but it is nice knowing that I’m not contributing excess landfill via disposable razors anymore. Great article!

  23. i dont shave much at all so i still have my disposable from a couple years ago, but when it gets too dull to use anymore, i think i might buy a safety razor or just stop shavin in general ??‍♂️

  24. Thanks for the info. I’m confused by the inclusion of ‘electric’ and ‘epilator’ being zero waste options – manufacturing an electronic device with a likely lifetime of 5 years or less probably uses up a lot of resources – so just becasue you are not putting things in your bin on a weekly basis its almost certainly a far worse option than a straight razor/ safety razor, infinitely worse than not shaving and definitely not ‘zero waste’. Likewise with the laser option – the calculation proably becomes prety complicated because someone else owns and opperates the device and lots of people use it, but a laser hair remover is likely a resource heavy and complex bit of kit that one day will become waste…

  25. can’t be more agree, the safety razor is more suitable to the atmosphere than their counterparts… but its a myth that stops people from getting in is they might cut themselves or is hard to use… what you think is the best reason people willing to pay a premium for a long time than that of up front?

  26. Wow, what a great article it is! Your posts are so interesting and providing me great information.This is really effective for us. Thanks for the shearing…

  27. Hi! I’ve tried two safety and could get none of them to work. I am doing this to reduce waste so I really don’t want to buy another one, maybe you can help.

    The first one was the cheapest one I could get (student life) and it left a 5 mm deep gash in my leg twice. I think this was due to the gap between the blade and the razor being too large allowing it to angle really dangerously.

    Not willing to give up I treated myself to the Merkur 42C Safety Razor. Now this does nothing. I have to press it into my leg super hard to get any hair whatsoever and it gets none of the finer ones and none of the hair at the curvatures of my ankle and shin. I tried for an hour basically having to scrub the razor over my leg in the end and got the most stubby incomplete shave of my life it was really frustrating. I was using Wilkinson Sword Classic Double Edge Safety Razor Blades and I am thinking maybe they are a tiny bit too short? When you get the perfect angle on a soft area where you can squish the razor in a bit it does cut hairs so I don’t think the blades are dull. The website I bought the razor from says it takes all standard double edged blades. Do you have any experience with this razor? How did you get it to work?

  28. Anyone have any idea of whether or not the coated paper the individual blades are wrapped in are compostable or recyclable?

  29. Thank you for all that you do! I think that making the switch to a safety razor is, a great option for some, but just wanted to share my experience, in case anyone can learn from it. My razor was one of the last non-zero-waste-items in my bathroom, so was excited to read up on them and promptly bought a safety razor at my local zero-waste shop. The first time I tried it, I cut myself twice, but wasn’t deterred and still felt super excited about the new purchase and was determined to be extra careful and to make it work for me. But about 4 weeks into using the safety razor, I noticed what I thought was an ingrown hair, but it became painful/red/hot over the next few days. When it showed no signs of improving, I went to the doctor who said that I have a staph infection, probably from a tiny cut that I didn’t even notice giving myself. These infections can become quite serious if not treated with antibiotics, so I would encourage those who are trying out something new for their skin to be aware and don’t put off going to the doctor if you notice something unusual and painful. It’s possible that I just got unlucky, but I haven’t had any problem like this in ~20 years of shaving with a plastic multi-blade razor. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to try again, but will look into some of the other options you listed here and hopefully find something that will work for me. All the best!