“2 million disposable plastic razors are thrown away every year and that is just the statistic from the US alone”
There are so many items that we use throughout our day, everyday, that we don’t even realise are disposable, non-recyclable or non-biodegradable. I had absolutely no idea until I started looking closely at my daily routines and the items I use to complete those routines.
So, I’ve decided to tackle the largest, heaviest and most disposable part of my backpack. My toiletries bag. This is what the contents of my toiletries bag currently looks like –
It consists of –
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Cotton wool balls
Facial wipes (single use)
THIS IS A SUSTAINABLE TOILETRIES NIGHTMARE!!
Now this does not include any other items I carry at all times including first aid supplies, sanitary supplies, medications, nail polishes and anything else I may feel I need.
Last time I weighed my toiletries bag, it came in at 3kg. That’s 3 kilograms!!! It is by far the heaviest thing in my luggage and I think it’s high time to downsize. I don’t need all of this stuff and there’s gotta be a way to condense some of it. I’m going to refer back to one of the tips I listed in my first post – Simplify and Minimise.
THE ART OF SHAVING SUSTAINABLY
I don’t expect this to be an easy task so I’m going to start off small. I’m going to address my disposable razor situation. While the delights of shaving our unsightly hair is shared by both men and women, I would probably say this post is more targeted towards women as I (fortunately) know nothing about shaving a face. There’s definitely some valid points in here though for both men and women.
Did you know: 2 million disposable plastic razors are thrown away every year and that is just the statistic from the US alone. Some people only use their razor once or twice and then throw it away without a second thought. To make matters worse, these plastic razors are NOT recyclable. The metal razor part is but who honestly separates the metal from the plastic when it comes time to throw it away. No one. So, unfortunately millions and millions of plastic razors are ending up in landfill every year.
NEW DISCOVERY: THE SAFETY RAZOR
I was recently perusing the Shaver Shop in a desperate search to find my Dad a Christmas present when I came across a whole shelf full of the most wonderfully vintage looking metal shavers. It turns out these were ‘Safety razors’ and have actually been around since the early 1900’s.
After the sales assistant explained how to use the safety razor including how to insert the razor blade and the correct way to use it, I decided I just had to have one. She even understood my zero waste plight and sold me blades that came in a recyclable cardboard box to accompany my new razor. She also informed me that if cared for correctly, my safety razor will last a lifetime. That is a massive gold star!
It’s definitely taken me some time to get used to how to actually use the razor as you have to change the angle in which you hold it against your skin. And I definitely take a little longer to shave certain areas as I want to avoid nicks and cuts, but since I’m not prepared to let my legs and underarms revert back to an old growth forest, I have made sure to invest my time into learning how to do it right (Also youtube is a great help!).
With a little practise the safety razor can be used as quickly and easily as a disposable razor
I have been using my safety razor for about one month now and I am still using the same razor blade and it seems to still be going strong. What am I going to do with it though once it’s blunt and I need to dipsose of it?
Here are my options –
At home in Australia – While these razor blades can’t be put in regular recycling bins, you can get in touch with your local scrap metal company and they will gladly take them off your hands. You could use a glass jar with a lid as a receptacle for your used razor blades. An even better option would be to buy a can of soup, use a heavy duty knife to put a slit in the top big enough to fit the razor blades, empty out the soup and voila, you have your very own sharps bin. If you don’t like soup, you can also purchase specialised blade disposal tins online.
While travelling – This was a tough one as it really depends on which country you are travelling through. Since razor blades are small and don’t weigh very much, I like the idea of leaving my used ones in a small breath mint tin (or something similar). It will take a long time to fill up and even when it is full it still won’t weigh very much so if you are in a country with no recycling facilities, you can continue to carry it until you enter a country where you can recycle them.
ZERO WASTE SHAVING OPTIONS
Since my impulse purchase, I have been looking into other zero waste options.
1. The electric razor – I did actually own one of these not too long ago. It was easy to carry and relatively light and I did appreciate that it was rechargeable. It did however, go blunt after about 2.5 years and I had to throw it away. It would have ended up in landfill. Maybe if I had purchased a more expensive/better quality one, it wouldn’t have gone blunt so quickly but it still would have happened eventually and I would have had to purchase several in my lifetime. This it seems is a no go.
2. Laser hair removal – My research has taught me that these days laser hair removal is safe, fast and largely pain free and while it greatly reduces the amount and thickness of the hair you have, it is not an actual permanent removal of the hair as it does not remove the hair follicle at the root. It can be very unaffordable as you will need several sessions and not every person will respond to laser hair removal.
Electrolysis on the other hand, does produce permanent hair removal and will work on all skin and hair types. It is however, more painful and takes even more sessions than laser so will be even more expensive. But at least it is completely permanent and no maintenance sessions will ever be needed.
3. The straight blade (or cut-throat razor) – Now this looks exciting!! And something I never thought I would have ever considered using for myself. But ladies, this is not just a sexy tool for men; we can partake in all it’s glory too (just ask youtube)!!
Once again, this is a craft that would definitely need time and patience to learn but it is doable. As with the safety razor, if you look after your straight razor correctly, it can last a lifetime and there’s no razor blades to worry about recycling. To me that sounds like a sound investment. So much so in fact, that I think I’m going to purchase one for my backpack and leave the safety razor for when I’m at home.
SUSTAINABLE SHAVING IS POSSIBLE!!
I have neglected to mention anything about shaving creams as I don’t use them myself. I can use regular soap with no problems and have never found shaving creams necessary. If you do need to use something a bit more specialised, may I suggest you seek out a natural alternative that doesn’t use animal products or chemicals and that doesn’t come in non-biodegradeble packaging.
So it turns out there are definitely zero waste options when it comes to shaving when travelling or at home, there is no need to revert back to our caveman ancestry (unless you want to of course). I also feel the resources used to make these options is practically negligible, especially since if these tools are properly looked after, can last a lifetime and razor blades can be recycled if you are prepared to put the effort in.
My toiletries bag is already looking better.
Love Kat xx