Reducing waste at home: disposable razors vs reusable ones

Ever wonder what happens to all those disposable razor blades you throw away every year? Well, chances are, they end up in landfill. If, like me, you care about the environment and are trying to have a positive impact by reducing the amount of waste you create, then this article is for you!

My girlfriend got me a safety razor a few years back and, ever since, I’ve never gone back to disposable blades. Later on, she also got me a straight razor, which I used once and immediately gave up on. If you want to learn the difference between the two, this website explains it pretty well.

Suffice to say that a safety razor is essentially a durable razor handle, usually made of stainless steel, that keeps the blade safely contained on the top. It looks and operates a lot like a disposable razor except the only part you throw away are the blades (they can be recycled) which – obviously – is a massive win for the environment.

Here’s an example of what a safety razor looks like:

Sheffield Double-Edged Razor
What a beauty!

There are a few reasons why you should consider switching to a reusable blade (regardless of whether it’s a safety type one or a straight razor). Here are the ones that keep me hooked:

They are a lot cheaper!

When you first get started, you’ll want to buy a nice handle that can endure the test of time. But here’s the beauty of it: while these can cost hundreds of dollars, you don’t need to spend more than $30-$40 to get a really good one (like mine)! Here’s an example of one (this one made of brass) at $33.

Do your research and try to get a good handle for your price range. It will last you for many many years. More importantly, this is your biggest investment cause the blades themselves are more often than not cheaper than buying either disposable gillettes and/or re-charges for the razors Wilkinson, Gillette, Bic & Co produce. Here’s an example of a website where you can buy 10 blades for $6 (note that these are double-edge blades, essentially meaning you are buying 20 blades)!

If, like me, you don’t go full shave everyday, and you do some detailing here and there, then if you shave 2-3 times a week the above amount of blades will easily last you close to a year! That’s $6 for almost a year worth of shaving!

Now, lets head to Woolworths real quick and check the options there…

I’m gonna start off by comparing the above safety razor experience to Mach3 refills. Why? Because a shaving experience with a safety razor is just as better – if not outright better – than the best disposable razors out there. Don’t trust me? Ask your local barber – they shave for a living, so they’ll know…

The refills I linked to above cost a whooping $31 for 12 blades! There’s no way these 12 blades will last you close to a year if you shave 2-3 times a week! And even if they did, that would still be almost 10 times more expensive than going for a safety razor and buying double-edge blades. Isn’t that insane?

If you choose to compare a straight razor to something cheap in the $1-$3 range then, let me tell you, that’s like comparing spending a holiday in Fiji with going for a swim in your bathtub. Still, lets make that comparison nonetheless, again, by looking at a product from Woolworths…

This one from Bic only costs you $4.5 for 10 charges! Pretty darn cheap! The question is, though, how many times will you be able to use these blades? In the event that you can survive shaving with them, chances are you’ll burn through a pack a month if you want to avoid looking like the Joker. But lets be kind and generous here and say a pack will last you 2 months; that’s still $27 a year vs circa $6 with your much superior safety (or straight) razor.

There’s just no possible price comparison here. If you are buying disposable blades because they’re cheaper then, I’m afraid, you’ve been lied to, buddy!

A better shaving experience.

There are some things in life that you can’t truly understand until you experience them.

Having shaved with disposable blades for 10+ years, switching to a safety razor was the equivalent experience a toddler would go through while eating chocolate for the first time in his life. There’s just no coming back from that.

A good safety razor with a decent blade just clips the hair as close to the skin as possible without cutting or bruising the skin. It just delicately cuts it out at the most optimal length and without requiring any effort.

With disposable razors, I used to give my beard a first pass and then, often times, a couple more. With a safety razor, one pass is enough. You pair that with a nice shaving cream, spread with an actual brush, and you are in for a treat! You just can’t get that from a disposable blade bought at a supermarket.

How things feel makes a difference on how you experience them; the weight of the razor, the handle, the metal surface, it all comes together to make a good safety razor a lot more enjoyable to hold than a cheap piece of plastic and that all contributes to a better shaving experience.

Finally, I get to be a lot more precise with a safety razor than what I ever was with a disposable blade. The t-shaped format of the razor just allows for a level of detail that most disposable blades don’t offer.

The Planet will thank you!

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency around two billion disposable razors are thrown out every year in America alone (with the vast majority of them ending up in landfill). Considering men start shaving around the age of 13-14, that’s just a ridiculous amount of rubbish created every year (and that could be easily avoidable).

Now remember: there was a time (not so long ago), before Bic invented disposable plastic razors, when people would keep their razor blades for most of their lives (or at least the handle)! It was not hard to do either, it just took care. Companies like Unilever killed those practices by selling you the idea of convenience and, while there are many advancements that wouldn’t have been possible without the advent of plastic, the bill has arrived and the planet, as a whole, is already paying a hefty cost for the switch from sustainable to disposable.

Plastic razors in particular don’t just “go away”. They either leach toxic chemicals into the environment for hundreds of years or, they break into micro-plastics that destroy entire ecosystems and, eventually, make their way into the food-chain.

You have an opportunity to reduce the amount of waste you generate at home every day by switching to a reusable razor and I couldn’t encourage you more to do it.

So here’s where we net out….

All of this said, I’m not saying that you can’t get a good quality shave from a disposable blade. There are some out there that are certainly good.

However, you can’t get a quality shave for this low of an investment and with a less-damaging ecological footprint when you shave with a disposable blade. Naturally, this is not something that Unilever would advertise so it’s no wonder so many people think otherwise.

The plain simple truth is that if you care about your wallet, the environment and having a nice shaving experience, then a safety razor or a straight razor are the way to go.