Hair today, (not) gone tomorrow

Visualise this image – sexy lady in a voluptuous bubble bath. Classical music plays softly in the background. A perfectly formed leg comes out of the bubbles. She gently massages shaving cream onto her leg. She deftly runs the razor up her leg. The curves of the razor match the curves of her leg. All is perfect. Until she throws said razor it in the bin and KILLS THE PLANET.

Yep, this post is going to tackle hair removal and whether we can be more eco about it.

Jamie has a very simple solution for men’s hair removal – just don’t do it. He’s had a beard of some sort or another for the past 20 odd years. This of course means that he was hairy way before the hipster-beardy thing happened, so he was either well ahead of the curve or rather late picking up on the 70s trend. Either way on the odd occasion he has shaved his beard off he looks like a 14-year-old male version of his mum. Suffice to say his beard has been around for a long time.

In most quarters the same solution isn’t quite so appealing for ladies. There are those who embrace the shaggy underarm look and soft wisps on the legs and of course, each to their own, but that’s not my personal style.

This is not me

Over the years I’ve tried out most forms of hair removal. That is, except hair removal cream, as I’ve never really liked the concept of using chemicals on my skin to dissolve unwanted hair. Hair dissolving chemicals don’t sound very eco anyway, so we’ll dismiss them straight away.

I did start looking into electric razors, but the battery part of it seems to negate its non-disposable nature. Whilst you could use rechargeable batteries, as we do for all battery charged items at home already, rechargeable or not, batteries are pretty toxic to manufacture (warning, link story is extremely depressing), so again these were dismissed.

I have tried waxing in the past and whilst the results are good, it is really time consuming and with a small daughter I don’t find myself with much time to sit around pampering myself… You can however get hair removal wax products in glass jars, or even make sugar wax yourself, so at least it removes the plastic part. However my lack of pampering time meant this was also dismissed.

So now is where I share the embarrassing, nay, brutal truth. Convenience / lack of time / laziness has meant that for the past few years I’ve just been using disposable razors. Yes, I’ve also been killing the planet and I’m suitably ashamed. So disposable razors are what I’m going to swap out of my life.

First stop was to see if I could find anywhere where I could recycle disposable razors and the basic answer is no. In the US you can recycle Gillette razors with Terracycle, but Terracycle don’t offer the same solution in the UK. I also came across a company called Preserve who make razors (and many other things) out of recycled yoghurt pots. They are US-based but the razors are available to buy in the UK. In all, they seem like a very positive company, but their recycling program is US-based, so if you were to purchase the razors outside of the US you’d still be left with a disposable razor in the end (even in the US they won’t accept the blades back for recycling).

So, back to UK options… During my research into recyclable razors, Google kept pointing me towards old fashioned safety razors. Now, I am a serious klutz as my family will attest to, so it didn’t seem like a very safe idea to me! I was pretty sure the razor blades couldn’t be recycled either, but that proved to be wrong. In the UK, razor blades can be recycled with scrap metal (so at your local tip, rather than kerbside).

Of course you shouldn’t just throw uncovered razor blades into the scrap metal bin. The best idea is to get a metal recyclable box to store the used razor blades in and then the whole thing can be recycled in a scrap metal bin when full. If you want to sound like a total pro / know-it-all to family and friends you can use the official term “blade bank”. Note that it will probably take a good few years to fill the tin, so some amazing new recycling procedure may be in place by then anyway.

A blade bank is definitely a very niche item and again I couldn’t find it locally. The OneBlade blade bank is ideal although expensive for something you’re going to throw away, even if it takes years to fill.. But I figured I could absolutely make one myself out of an old drinks can:

Many, many cans of coke were harmed in the making of this

Blade bank, done. Now on to the razor. Of course, none of the local supermarkets or shops sold them, so I has to get one from Amazon (I also got my replacement blades at the same time). To mitigate my guilt of using Amazon, I chose the UK manufacturer, Earnest James. I am currently trying to use Amazon as more of a research tool and buy direct from companies, but on their company website they say they only sell their products through Amazon. Argh!

Anyway the convenience and guilt of shopping on Amazon will be covered in later post. I must get back to the point at hand – my stubbly legs. Mmmm, what an image.

Razor and razorblades in hand, first step is to screw a blade onto the razor. This may seem minor to most, but the number of times I’ve cut my fingers just slicing tomatoes means this is a pretty terrifying experience for me. However I managed to do this unharmed. Huzzah! The razor looks all neat and stylish so I go into the shower with a rather blasé attitude. Without going into detail, let’s just say it wasn’t a pretty scene. It appears “safety” razors are INSANELY SHARP. While they may be “safer” than cutthroat razors, they could definitely do with a rebrand now that we’re no longer in the 1800s.

However, I do persevere. The cuts become less frequent and smaller. The razor does look pretty darn cool in the shower. And it turns out even I, a total klutz, can successfully use a super sharp “safety” razor successfully if I take a deep breath, concentrate and do it slowly…

So go on, think about your shaving habits and either becoming a hairy hippy, or swap to a more sustainable shaving alternative.

8 thoughts on “Hair today, (not) gone tomorrow”

  1. Certainly food for thought. Once my old blades are used up I shall certainly be swapping. Let’s hope it’s not too much of a blood bath when I do!!!

  2. I too have been bearded long before the hipster thing. Anyway the whole shaved thing was driven by the porn industry so not the best reason to do it. Although culture now says to shave it seem to me to be mostly vanity. We have hair on our bodies for a reason. I am sure it will revert back at some point just like having real eyebrows and skin that isn’t orange…

  3. I confess – and now I am dating myself – to this type of razor being the first I used. And I have in recent years gone in search of another (with your same environmental impact focus in mind), only to come up empty. Clearly I have to search harder. Thanks for this, Kate.

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