Plastic Problem: Disposable Razors

Summary

  • I recently purchased a razor that uses a replaceable metal blade
  • The objective was to reduce a repeated plastic purchase, disposable plastic razor blades
  • My first shave with the new razor went well, it has a safety design, so I did not cut/nick my face
  • The shave was similar in result to a disposable plastic razor blade
  • The price point, seems similar to what I was experiencing before
  • This type of solution may be more oriented towards the requirements of men, than of women

Discussion

I am not naive enough to believe that I can become plastic free overnight. I and my family produce a mountain of waste every day, or at least a trash buckets worth every few days. So I start my journey not by throwing out or banning all plastic from the house, but by looking at areas of repeated plastic purchase.

One area is disposable razors. My Dad used an old style stainless steel razor and I remember watching him use it. I remember playing with old style razor blades at school (science classes) and at home. Just normal stuff, nothing destructive. I do not ever remember a time when I used those old style razors consistently. To the best of my memory I came of age at a time when using disposable plastic razors was on the rise, and to the best of my recollection I have aways used them.

Disposable plastic razors are convenient, they provide a reasonably good shave, and they last more than one shave. They certainly do not invoke the fear of endless nicks and cuts that the old style razors do. So as I approached the task of replacing disposable plastic razors with replaceable stainless steel razors – “straight blades” or “wet shaving”, this was something on my mind. That led me to choose the OneBlade razor.

I chose the cheap plastic razor that has metal razor inserts. I can keep using the razor while buying new metal blades. I would have preferred to have purchased the fully metal razor, but I lacked the courage to tell my wife I was spending $399 on a razor (or $2,500 on the special edition razor). There are full metal razors on the market for $70-$80, but they do not have the features I found compelling in the head of the OneBlade razor. There are compromises everywhere in decisions such as these: cost, other damage to the environment from non-plastic, non-oil based materials, etc.

So I tried my new razor with insertable razor blades. Not bad, not bad. I would not say the shave was better than disposable razors, but it was good enough. Of course, the marketing materials suggest I lather up with a shaving brush, study the direction my hair is growing in, and do a number of other things to get the best shave. I did none of these things. I just shaved in the shower the way I normally do. It has to be that way for me. I am not into the glamor and ritual of shaving. It is a necessary evil for me. Nothing more, nothing less.

Speaking of lathering up, it does appear that this style of razor is oriented towards the shaving activities of men, specifically shaving facial hair. I say this because I know that there are special disposable razors marketed towards women for shaving legs, I have seen them around the house. There are men and women who also shave in, shall we say, more sensitive parts of the body. Will the razor I purchased do those tasks well? I cannot testify to all those use cases. My guess is it would be ok, but the existence of specialty products for those use cases suggests consumers may be particularly picky about what they use. I don’t recall using a disposable plastic razor marketed at women for shaving legs, so I am not familiar with whether they have truly unique qualities, or if it is mostly marketing.

For now, I will stick with my new razor with replaceable metal razor blades. Yes, I have fallen for the oldest business model in business, the razor and razor blade model, and I am probably locked into blades from a single supplier. I have not done a full financial analysis, but eyeballing it, I did not perceive anything to be concerned about. 60 blades cost about $45 on Amazon, and you are supposed to get 2-3 shaves per blade, about 75 cents each. The type of disposable plastic razor I used to buy cost about 80 cents to 95 cents each depending on what quantity you buy them in. I used them for more than 2-3 shaves each, on average. No doubt there are a range of price points. So first blush, I don’t feel bad about the price comparison, and I am on the road to eliminating one of my repeated plastic purchases. I should note, there are much more expensive disposable plastic razors than the ones I have been using.

While reducing my personal use of plastic disposable razor blades my not seem like a big deal, there are apparently 163 million users in America. Collectively, that is a great deal of waste. It goes without saying that I could simply not shave. That is an option and apparently an increasingly common one among millennials. I’ll think about that in the future. For now, this is a plastic reduction step I am taking.

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