Traditional, real shaving is more eco friendly

The double edged razor and lathering with a brush both evolved in eras when Western society did not have the material riches that it “enjoys” today. So they are not greedy of resources, make little demands of the environment and have the lowest possible impact upon it.

Let’s start with the razor. I regularly use a fat handled Gillette Tech from the 1930s, it is over 70 years old and is still perfect. Its life is virtually indefinite with a replate every 50 to 100 years to keep it going. Compare that with plastic and metal “system” razors that are built with planned obsolescence. They put you on a treadmill of constantly retiring your old razor in favour of new models with more “features”. You can try to hold out, but when they switch off blade manufacture you are left with no option.

Next the blades. System razors use cartridges that contain many different components and so which are difficult to recycle. Traditional double edged blades are pure stainless steel. I put my used blades in an Altoids mint tin and once a year take it to the recycling centre from whence the steel can go to make new razor blades. And there is more, most DE blades come in simple paper and cardboard packaging which is easily biodegradable, but system razor cartridges come in masses of packaging, most of which is plastics.

The big shaving companies like you to use aerosol cans of foam or gel, once again these don’t recycle very easily. Not only that they contain petrochemicals, manufactured by the oil industry, which is not the kindest contributor to our environment. Compare and contrast that with shaving soaps made from natural oils and which use the minimum of packaging. Some of these are are made by artisan soap makers with the highest ethical standards. The contrast with the aerosols could not be greater.

And finally we have something that system shaving lacks. The shaving brush. These mainly use natural animal hair and a good badger brush has a life of up to 30 years. After that all you need to do is replace the hair. The life of the handle is virtually infinite.

So real shaving isn’t just far more enjoyable, it also helps to save the planet.


  1. The plastic packaging Gillette uses with their blades is almost dangerous. Very difficult to open even with knife and scissors.

  2. Great blog. I’ll have to check if my local recycling centre takes razor blades. I’ve never heard of anywhere doing that before.

    For a future blog, maybe you could outline how to get a razor replated, and how much it costs? It would be a useful blog for those who buy razors on eBay and in junk shops.

  3. From:

    “To give these numbers context, the safety razor creates very little waste and almost all byproducts can be recycled. However, for every 16 men who use disposable razors, the spacial equivalent of 1 Volkswagen Beetle will be thrown away over their lifetimes. This means that in British Columbia’s Greater Vancouver Regional District (an area of two-million people), the equivalent of over 45,000 Volkswagen Bugs will end up in landfills over the next 80 years.”

  4. DE blades _can_ be recycled, but how many are? I bet most people just throw them in the bin, whence they contribute to landfill.

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