Environmental Impact of Disposable Razors




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Why its time to start ditching disposable razors!

We all know that the environment is in bad shape. It’s not just climate change, it’s also pollution and many other things. One of the most overlooked offender of plastic pollution is disposable razors.

What is the problem with disposable plastic razors?

The waste issue of disposable razors is significant. Disposable razors are made with plastic that is not biodegradable, and when disposed of in landfills, they take up much-needed space. The best way to avoid the negative environmental impacts of disposables razors is by using a safety razor instead.

Why are Disposable razors are bad for the environment

Razors are not biodegradable so they just sit there for a long time taking up space until eventually breaking down into smaller pieces of plastic that can harm both wildlife and humans alike!

According to Statista.com’s poll, over 60 million razors were sold in the United Kingdom in 2017, with a majority of them ending up as landfill trash and then microplastic pollution. This means all those little pieces of micro-plastic can end up being ingested by sea creatures like plankton or small fish which then ends up on someone’s dinner table as food.

The environmental protection agency has reported that about 80 million disposable razor cartridges are thrown away each year, and most of them end up in landfills.

In fact, the EPA estimates that more than two million tons of plastic waste are generated annually from discarded shaving products which then ends up in our waterways or oceans where it harms wildlife!

Disposable razor recycling

Whilst some of the disposable handles of plastic razors may be recycled (not all), one of the main issues with disposable razors is dealing with the cartridges which are deemed non-recyclable.

The blades can cause damage to recycling machinery and also are a health and safety risk at recycling centres, so are just not recycled. Because they are made of both plastic and metal, they are very difficult to separate and not easily recyclable. It appears that multi-blade cartridge razors are the most wasteful bathroom items we use.

Most plastic disposable razors are not recyclable at all but some companies have started recycling programmes. Gillette has teamed up with TerraCycle to recycle used razors through their recycling programme. TerraCycle and Gillette have partnered to offer free recycling envelopes for your razors and razor blades.

You need to request a pre-paid envelope to send back your used blades to them for partial recycling. Each household can request 4 envelopes per year, and you can send a maximum of 16 razors and/or razor blades in each envelope.

Other similar initiatives have been launched by TerraCycle to assist with the processing of hard-to-recycle disposable plastic items that are not typically included in curbside pickups.

The recycled plastic is then shredded and converted into pellets for re-use in new items, as well as the metals sent for smelting and turned into new alloys.

Is this the disposable razor solution?

In a 2015 report, The Guardian found that about 80 million razor cartridges were being sent for to landfill in the UK each year and concluded by saying “it is also doubtful whether cartridge-based systems are more environmentally friendly than safety razors”.

There have been no figures released to date on the uptake of the Gillette recycling scheme and it appears most disposable razors are still ending up in landfills. The problem of the plastic razor continues!

Eco Friendly Alternatives to disposable razors 

Double Edged Razor

So, by now you’re probably thinking “I need to ditch my disposable razors!”. So how do I make the switch to zero waste shaving, is there a sustainable alternative?

As mentioned earlier in this article, double edged safety razors are a much greener option. They have been around for over 100 years and were originally thought of as old fashioned compared to multi-blade cartridge razors.

In order to reduce environmental impact as well as save money on shaving supplies, you should consider using an old-fashioned safety razor. Safety razors are easy to use and offer a close shave without all the drawbacks associated with their disposable counterparts.

Safety razors are a much better alternative to disposable razors. These types of razors have been around for decades and consist of a single, replaceable blade that is removed by the user after it has dulled from use. You do need to replace the stainless steel blades periodically (estimated every 5-7 shaves), but the metal blades can be recycled easily.

And remember, safety razors are not just for men! Ladies safety razor’s are for you as well!

The marketing ads saying more blades are better and needed for a closer shave are just wrong! Read our guide on how to use a safety razor. If you are not sure what to buy etc, our eco friendly shaving kits are a great start and will have everything you need for waste free shaving! PS, they also make great gifts 😉 

The used blades from metal razors can be stored in a razor blade bank then taken to your local recycling. As razor blades are made from stainless steel they can be endlessly recycled. These are a real zero waste solution and will give you a much smoother shave!

Electric Shaver

The electric razor is a reusable razor and could offer a solution of sorts to the problem with plastic disposable razors. Unfortunately, the majority of electric razors are still made with plastics and other non-recyclable materials that will ultimately end up in landfills.

Also electric shavers still use electricity, so a manual razor is better. But what if you purchase an eco-friendly electric razor? There are some electric shaver’s that has a rechargeable battery powered by solar energy. They use recycled materials in their packaging and is packaged with recyclable materials.

But are Electric shavers really better for the environment? The jury’s still out on this one…..

Purchasing an electric razor can help reduce your environmental impact but does not necessarily mean it will be more sustainable than other types of shaving options.

Also many people with sensitive skin struggle when using electric razors in their shaving routine and others complain you just can’t get a closer shave with them.

What you should do about disposables if you’re already using them?

While it is wise to avoid using disposable razors whenever possible, if you are already in the habit of shaving with them there are ways you can reduce their environmental impact.

When disposing of your razor blades/cartridges always remember to wrap up and recycle as many components as possible: metal cartridge parts, plastic packaging and even the plastic handle for proper recycling!

Other Options to Reduce your Shaving Waste

It’s not just the disposable plastic razors that cause waste when shaving. Let’s talk about shaving foam but it all comes in extensive plastic packaging which is also not easily recycled.

We really need to end our love affair with disposable products. Not only do they cause landfill waste but also they cause damage by leaching toxic chemicals into our waterways. The natural resources defence council even states that disposable razors are responsible for over two billion five hundred million plastic waste every year worldwide.

The real solution to this problem is not just shifting to metal safety razor blades but also changing our lifestyle choices and reduce the number of products we purchase in general! There’s no point buying eco-friendly safety razors if we are still using more plastic products in our shaving routine.

There are sustainable alternatives to shaving foam, such as a soap shaving bar, which is biodegradable and usually comes in cardboard packaging which will decompose naturally, and is much cheaper! 

If you want to start living a zero-waste lifestyle and reduce our plastic pollution then just take these easy eco-friendly steps when next shaving! The key here is not just switching what type of product you use but also reducing your overall consumption so that we can leave this world better than when we found it.

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