Blades of Glory; The Rise of the Safety Razor

Disposable razors, although not quite a single-use plastic, is still a bathroom item that deserves to be reviewed under our sustainable living magnifying glass. With metal blades, a plastic handle, finally encompassed by a plastic case (that is like Fort Knox when it comes to opening), they are far from helpful in our war against plastic. Additionally, the mismatch of materials and the unsafe nature of blades make it recycling plants worst nightmare, with the majority of recyclers refusing to take them.

Then there is the quantity in which we are using them. In 2018 approximately 5.5 million people in the UK were using disposable razors[1]. The Environmental Protection Agency once estimated that 2 billion razors and refill blades get thrown out each year. With studies forecasting the razor industry to increase to approximately $22.5 billion by 2030 (from $18 billion in 2019)[2], and recycling plant’s unwillingness (and inability) to recycle disposable razors, the number of razors ending up in landfill is only looking to increase.

Now in comes safety razors – an invention graced upon us in 1762 by French cutler Jean-Jacques Perret, which was later popularised in the US by King C. Gillette[3] (does the name ring any bells?). They are considered to be more sustainable and cost-effective when compared to the disposal razor due to their plastic-free design, and all their metal components being recyclable. Additionally, you only need to replace the blades once they get dull (generally after 6 shaves) and they cost approximately GBP 10 for 100 blades – excellent for the bank account.

When I first came across the safety razor I will be honest, I was scared. The blades looked anything but safe to me. However, the desire to be more sustainable prompted me to order one from UpCircle Beauty. It arrived a few days later in recycled packaging, and no plastic in sight (Winning!).

Then came the moment of truth – testing. Only after watching multiple Youtube videos to understand the correct technique, I braved the first few strokes. I went so slow, like SLOWWWW, as I had previously envisioned something out of Sweeney Todd as the result. However, I was pleasantly surprised. It was much easier than I had originally anticipated, and the shave was MUCH better than any disposable razors I had ever used.

After having my safety razor for a few months now I can safely say I am a convert and I will not be looking back. My big tip would be to take the razor apart after every use, clean the blade and leave the razor pieces apart to dry. As this process involves handling a loose blade please be careful. Once dry store each piece in an airtight container (away from the little ones if you have them), or if yours comes with a box, in there is fine too. Ensuring it remains dry after use will help stop the razor and the blades from rusting so you can get the most use out of it.

Image courtesy of upcirclebeauty.com

If you would like £10 off your purchase at UpCircle Beauty please click here.

To stop shaving completely is an option and although it is probably the most sustainable as you aren’t using any resources to maintain this choice, for me, feeling like a slick dolphin is too satisfying.

Other shaving alternatives such as using an electric razor is also an option, but then you need to factor in the plastic usage, the emissions used to create the product, the electricity to power it and finally when you are done, its disposal[4]

Finally, ensure to use environmentally friendly shaving soaps/gels and turn off the water whilst shaving.

Happy S(h)aving!

Other well-known safety razor brands include

Rockwell Razors

D.R. Harris & Co – A UK brand, with most of its products and packaging made in the UK.

BamBaw

I have not tested any of the brands listed above.


[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/303508/razors-and-razor-blades-and-electric-shavers-usage-by-type-in-the-uk/

[2] https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/03/25/2005955/0/en/Razor-Market-to-be-Worth-22-5-Billion-by-2030-owing-to-Increasing-Efforts-by-People-to-Maintain-their-Appearance-P-S-Intelligence.html

[3] https://www.britannica.com/topic/cutlery#ref176626

[4] https://slate.com/technology/2010/12/what-s-the-greenest-way-to-shave.html

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