August 18, 2022

Sustainable Ways to Shave •Your Guide to Safety Razors

If you’re here, I’m guessing it’s because you’d like to know more about Sustainable Ways to Shave. Or perhaps you’re just looking for an easy Guide to Safety Razors, that answers questions like what’s the Best Safety Razor and How Often Should You Switch Razor Blades?

Maybe, like me, you were just sick of buying expensive disposable razors and figured there had to be an alternative out there. After all, people have been shaving for all of history! Certainly long before plastic existed.

And I promise I’ll get to all of that, and then some, as part of my continuing series in How to Start Living Sustainably, but first…

Easy Sustainable Swaps: Curiosity & Laziness

When I started writing this Guide to Safety Razors, and Sustainable Ways to Shave, I began by reflecting on how I came to care about sustainability, and why it’s important to me to share my findings with you.

A lot of the actions I’ve taken to become more sustainable are a direct result of my own curiosity. Of washing the dishes and wondering what alternatives there are to gross kitchen sponges. Of looking at a label on a scarf, “Made in India”, and wondering how much the person who made it was paid. Of looking at a disposable razor and wondering how it was then actually disposed of.

Most conventional razors are a mix of cheap plastic and sharp metal. The materials are nearly impossible to separate, so virtually all of them will end up in landfill, where they’ll never fully decompose. But like I said before, people have been shaving for all of history! And sure, I don’t really want to take a straight razor to my legs but, I figured, there must be other alternatives.

My search for Easy Sustainable Swaps doesn’t just come down to curiosity though. The other element comes down to a sort of laziness. I really didn’t enjoy remembering to buy razors in the same way I really didn’t enjoy remembering to buy disposable kitchen sponges. Plus, even the cheaper razors weren’t exactly cheap. And so, I began my search for sustainable alternatives to disposable razors – research I’ve decided to share with you in case you’re also looking for a cheaper, easier, Sustainable Alternative to Razors just like me!

  • Impact of Disposable Razors
    • Are Razors Bad for the Environment?
  • Your Guide to Safety Razors
    • What is a Safety Razor?
    • Are Safety Razors Better for the Environment?
    • How Often Should You Switch Razor Blades?
  • Sustainable Ways to Shave
    • Best Sustainable Ladies Razor (feat. a small rant about male and female razors)
  • Where to Shop Sustainable Razors Around the World
    • Recyclable Disposable Razors


Are Razors Bad for the Environment?

A quick search on the impact of razors, and I quickly realised my hunch about how conventional razors are disposed of was right. Google was flooded with incomprehensible statistics:

  • in the US alone, it was estimated that over 2 billion razors were thrown away every year, dating back to the 1980s*
  • most disposable razors are neither recyclable nor biodegradable, so that all goes straight to landfill
  • the EPA estimated that discarded shaving products create 2 million tons of waste each year – and this doesn’t include all the plastic packaging!*

So, to answer the question ‘Are Razors Bad for the Environment?’ – yes, disposable razors are bad for the environment. The good news is that there are sustainable alternatives out there.

*The EPA doesn’t have up-to-date data, meaning today’s statistics are likely much higher given population growth, etc. And of course, this only reflects consumption in the US, not the world.


What is a Safety Razor?

If you’re interested in sustainability, you might have seen pictures of safety razors around the internet. Or perhaps your Dad or Grandpa used to use one! Safety razors are typically made of metal, either stainless steel or aluminum, and use a double-edged blade that you put in place and remove yourself. They offer a closer shave and are easy to use – there just might be a bit of a learning curve.

My advice for How to Use a Safety Razor: you only need light pressure and use water as hot as you can handle! Most importantly, take it slow. I like to see it as an exercise in slow living 😉

Are Safety Razors Better for the Environment?

Absolutely, Safety Razors are Better for the Environment. Firstly, safety razors are made with long-lasting metal. It’s quite possible that you could have the same one for life! They usually come packaged in paper, and even if they do come in plastic packaging, this is a once-off thing. This is also why switching to a Safety Razor is a Sustainable Swap that will save you money! While the upfront cost might be a little higher, the ongoing costs are significantly lower.

Secondly, the only part of a safety razor that needs disposing of is the blade itself. Many countries are even able to recycle used razor blades with their regular recycling programs, as they’re simply a piece of metal. It’s important to check the rules in your council area though, to make sure you dispose of your used razor blades safely and sustainably.

How Often Should You Switch Razor Blades?

Regardless of the area you’re shaving, you don’t want to be shaving with a dull blade. Using a dull blade, counterintuitively, means you’re more likely to irritate your skin, cut yourself, or experience razor burn. That said, How Often You Should Switch Your Razor Blades really depends on how often you shave (and where you’re shaving). For example, shaving your legs covers a lot larger surface area than shaving your underarms!

A rule of thumb is to change your safety razor blade after around 5 shaves. I’d recommend experimenting with this though and working out your own rhythm. Personally, I shave my legs once a week (and underarms maybe twice a week if I remember), and I change out the blade once every 2-3 weeks.


Best Sustainable Ladies Razor

Okay, I’m not going to lie. This header – ‘Sustainable Ladies Razor’ – irks me. I think I can best demonstrate why with a little story.

Way back when, I was standing in the “hygiene” aisle of the supermarket as I surveyed my options. Razors on razors on razors. There were more on the other side, too, but they were pink instead of blue. My little brother came around the corner and started making fun of me, “ahha! You’re looking at boooooyys razors.”
“Yeah dude, cause they’re exactly the same as a “giiiiirrrls” razor, but they cost less.”
“No way.”
“It’s true.”

He wanders up the aisle and takes a look, determined to prove me wrong, but instead, returns miffed. “I don’t get it. They’re just pink?! Nothing else changes!”

Now, we can go in-depth on the so-called ‘pink tax’ another time, but here’s the point – there is no such thing as ‘Sustainable Mens Razors’ or ‘Best Sustainable Womens Razors’. There are just razors. Maybe the handle length or curve changes a little, but in the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. So, why did I use this title?

Because ‘Sustainable Ladies Razor’ and ‘Sustainable Razors for Women’ are both hugely popular search terms, that very few people have written for. Most articles about shaving, especially shaving using sustainable ways to shave, are targeted toward men. Women are trying to be included in the conversation. And I get that! Because while razors are just razors, shaving your legs is very different to shaving your face.

All that said, let’s skip pretending razors are gender specific, and instead of listing the Best Sustainable Ladies Razor, let’s just talk about the Best Sustainable Razors out there.

Where to Shop Sustainable Razors around the World

In keeping with my other guides on sustainable swaps, I’ve compiled a list of online stores where you can source Sustainable Razors around the World. Alternatively, just head to your local barber! Even if they don’t sell safety razors, I’m sure they’ll be able to tell you where to go.

Personally, I bought my razor from Jentl via Zero Store in Perth (although Zero Store has since closed). Not only are they an Australian brand, but their commitment to sustainability goes beyond just the products, also taking into consideration shipping, materials & packaging.

Africa: Shop Zero

Asia: TBD (if you have recommendations for local stores in Asia, I’d love to link them here! Just contact me with details!)

South & Central America: TBD (if you have recommendations for local stores in South and/or Central America, I’d love to link them here! Just contact me with details!)

North America: Package Free Shop

Europe & the UK: Upcircle Beauty

Australia & New Zealand: Jentl, Biome

Recyclable Disposable Razors

In case it isn’t obvious, I’m a big believer in the humble Safety Razor as the number one Sustainable Alternative to Disposable Razors. It’s the most cost-effective and has the lowest environmental impact. It isn’t the only Sustainable Way to Shave, though. If you’re not a fan of safety razors, or you’re just not ready to try a safety razor, you can find recycled plastic razors with replaceable blades.

Although I’ve never tried it, the Best Recyclable Disposable Razor I’ve come across in my research is the Recycled Ocean Plastic Razor System by Preserve. This is best for those of you based in North America, as it’s produced in the US.

For those of you in Australia & New Zealand, while it’s not my favourite option, Gilette & Venus have teamed up with TerraCycle to create a razor recycling program that you can check out.

And there you have it! Your Guide to Safety Razors. Do you have any other recommendations for Sustainable Ways to Shave? Or perhaps you have a local store that you’d love for me to add to the list? Either way, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Looking for more tips on sustainable living? Check out my Simple Beginners Guide to Start Living Sustainably, or download my Complete Checklist of Simple Sustainable Swaps for Home.

I put together these guides to sustainable living just for fun, because I really do believe in the cause. For now, I don’t use any affiliate links or marketing. That said, if you found this post useful, you could also buy me a coffee!