RETHINK: Razors: The cutting edge

If you read any zero waste blog, one of the items that inevitably comes up is razors. The blogs recommend you get laser hair removal, waxed, or use a straight or safety razor. All these actions cut down on the disposable razors and replaceable heads, and the plastic used in “disposables.”

My leg hair is too light to qualify for laser hair removal and I have low pain tolerance for hair waxing so I have not done either of these on my underarms or legs.

This is a straight razor. It’s the original razor. They tend to be a bit more expensive if you want a good one, you will need the blade, strop, wet stone and perhaps a shaving bar/soap, cup and brush. Materials and packaging will vary. All of the materials pictured were made in Germany or America.

Only my husband used the straight razor. I don’t recall seeing mention of ladies using a straight razor when we bought this years ago. I’m too prone to cutting myself as it is to even try, though I appreciate the nostalgia of this razor. There is also a lot of stuff that goes with it. It was a little slippery to use, though he never hurt himself. The sharpening did take more time than he wanted to put into zero waste shaving. We had to order it. If there are shops that sell them in Austin, I’m not aware of it. This is a Dovo razor, Hollow Ground Straight Razor D-42701 Solingen.

This is a safety razor. It’s the more vintage cool razor. It’s what zero waste blogs usually recommend. It is the razor and razor blades. The razor dissembles to insert the blade. There’s no plastic, and items come in boxes or paper envelopes. The razor was made in India and the blades are made in Egypt.

My husband only uses the safety razor as well. it’s his favorite blade of all the razor types. It’s a “safety” razor; however I cut my thumb pretty bad just changing out the blade for him once with slightly damp hands so I decided to pass. If I get up the courage I’ll try again. We ordered the “>Shark Double Edged Razor Blades. I’m not aware of a vendor in Austin.

Safety razors are commonly touted as the most environmentally friendly option since it’s all metal and paper. However; the blades may not be accepted at your local recycling center for safety reasons and definitely not in the single stream carts. Check with your local city or provider.

Per the City of Austin, Austin Resource Recovery:

Straight razors are not recyclable via City of Austin.  Because these are dangerous and could potentially slice through protective gloves, ARR requests these be boxed or bagged and then placed in landfill trash. Please label “SHARPS” if you are able.

This decision was made due to the small percentage of these items being trashed and the high risk of injury to our operators if these were to be added to sortable recycling containers. 

Also, due to the high volume of metal scrap we already receive at the Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center, operators might be injured if straight razors were mixed in with all the other metals received there.

Austin Resource Recovery staff
  • Austin Metal and Iron on Decker Lane will take the safety razor blades. I recommend you store them in a sturdy, sealed container, marked Sharps if you can.
  • Albatross Designs will take back their blades and other brand blades in the mail. See their website for storage and mailing instructions.
  • CMC Recycling will not accept safety razor blades.

I’m waiting to hear back from other Austin scrap metal companies and will keep you posted.

If your city or recycling center provider does not accept safety razors, and I recommend you check before purchasing one, the Gillette and Venus Razor Recycling Program may be a “greener” option for you in your area. More information is below.

I personally use a Gillette Mach3 Men’s Razor. It doesn’t cut me and doesn’t over-shave my legs. I prefer Target’s Up & Up version of the blade refill to Gillette’s version, it’s less harsh and shaves better in my opinion. I get less irritation.

If you use a razor with replaceable cartridge heads, TerraCycle has teamed up with Gillette and Venus to create the Gillette Razor Recycling Program. There isn’t a waitlist! “All brands of blades and razors (systems and disposable units, and replaceable-blade cartridge units), rigid plastic packaging, and flexible plastic bag packaging” are accepted in the program. Double-edged safety razors are not accepted in this program.

One of my friends said she uses an electric razor. She said it’s not as close a shave on the legs as a replacement head razor but it works well enough and she doesn’t have to buy replacement heads. If the razor ever broke, it could be recycled at the Austin Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center at the Electronics station. I haven’t tried an electric razor but it’s another option to consider.

I use a bulk body wash or shampoo to shave with. The products are available in recyclable gallon jugs. I haven’t found a shaving bar that moisturizes well enough for me to shave with. If anyone finds a really good shaving bar, please let me know!

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