Better shave. Less waste.

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Mid-last-year I picked up a safety razor from my local zero-waste store and making my own home-job after-shave and it’s changed my relationship with shaving. I have a convert’s fervour now for evangelizing it. I started this blog partly to track the reasonable measures I could take to reduce my waste. I don’t think it’s a huge volume thing, but it sure feels like it’s one small way I can get my overall volume of plastic waste cut down. Thus the post.

First, the razor. I’m not sure why it took me so long to try one. My dad for the longest time shaved with a safety razor until, I think, handling the blades became more dangerous. I’ve picked up this beauty from NU and it has the heft I remember from my dad’s razor. It doesn’t lift hairs like a multi-blade head, so there’s a lot less irritation. Because it’s so cheap – I buy retail so about a $1 a blade – I’m more likely to swap blades out after a couple of shaves so it’s always sharp and comfortable. I’m not sure why Wilkinson packages its blades in plastic, but King Gillette blades and various other brands come in tiny amounts of cardboard and paper that I just throw in my backyard composter. The blades themselves are recyclable. In a couple of years I’ll bring the container pictured here to the scrappers for disposal.

My dad wasn’t thinking much about waste and I remember his cans of Barbasol in the trash. But I’m using the shaving soap cakes from NU and a brush. It’s romantic, of course, and I get the hipster appeal. But it’s also a great shave with no packaging or waste.

The after-shave is probably the step beyond. For years I’ve hated shaving because of the irritation to my neck. It was always afflicted with razor burn no matter how many times I escalated the number of blades or tried a variety of commercial after-shaves. Switching to the safety razor that shaves at the skin’s surface has helped, but what’s really helped my neck heal – I think – has been a concoction of witch hazel and vegetable glycerine that I whip up in batches to treat my skin after shaving. You’ll find all kinds of recipes online, but most are just the combination of those two ingredients (3/4 cup of witch hazel, 1 tbsp of glycerine) with essential oils for fragrance. I use peppermint, lavender and eucalyptus, but a more manly man might use muskier and deeper notes. 

The witch hazel and oils I can buy as refillables from my local zero-waste store, but while it will be a while before the bottle’s out I’ll need to recycle the plastic bottle in which the vegetable glycerine comes packaged. Overall, it seems like a significant reduction from the plastic waste of disposable blade heads and packaging and commercial after-shave.

Better shave. Less waste.