Be Relevant

Relearning everything we've forgotten.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Razor's Edge: Part 1

Taken as a whole problems can become so overwhelming.  Where do we even begin?  I'm not saying anything new here but I think we all lose sight of the fact we can take smaller steps and need to be reminded of it from time to time.

I took an online sustainability test the other day and I was a little shocked at the results.

It's based in the UK and its called the Happy Planet Index.  OK, yeah I had the same revulsion at first but why?  Happy Planet sounds hokey but, again, why?  A happy planet sounds good to me.  I want to be happy.  So forget about the name and try it if you want.

2.92 planets is what it would take to sustain me.  Which means I'm using 2-3X my share of the planet.  Let's not argue property rights at this time and say its true.  WOW!  I thought I was doing so much better.   Yet I'm not.

Now how do I change this?  Well if I look at my life as a whole it is daunting to make a change right now.  So daunting I don't do anything except buy products that are greener.  Which is a good start but there is so much more I could do.  So I decided to start one item at a time.  First up is the thing I have to do everyday and I truly could do without but I can't:  shaving.   Besides my work requiring a clean, smooth face daily so does Mel and in the end her vote carries a lot of weight.

The Unsustainable Approach:
Like most people who have to shave or choose to shave I use a manufactured razor with disposable blades.    What an incredible business model from a purely economics point of view.  Most companies either give away their razors or substantially reduce their cost.  All their profit is focused on the recurring sales of disposable razor blades.  Now all that plastic and used metal is going to the landfill to never be reclaimed.

You're Trying:
The first thing that someone can do is Reduce the amount of razor blades they use.  If you are totally using the disposable ones - you know the yellow plastic ones I'm talking about - switch to the type that at least only has disposable blades.  Next, take care of that thing.  Get it out of the shower and dry it off after each use.  Water damage is the biggest contributor to the expiration of that blade.  Some people are saying they can get 2-3 months out of one blade.  As with everything results will vary but that sounds pretty good for the wallet.

A More Sustainable Approach:
The second step up from the disposable blade razor is the safety razor.  These things can be works of art in their own rights and many people become obsessive about their razor.  In this one you have a razor that is built (usually) of materials that are meant to last.  Then you buy individual blades to fit into the head of the razor.  These really cut down on the packaging and just as with disposable blades, if you keep them dry each blade will last you awhile.  An added benefit is that you can Reuse with these razors by purchasing a vintage razor.  So no new materials were used in it's making.

Kicking My Own Approach: 
The final step up is the straight razor.  These things hold a certain mystique.  Reactions to them range from abject terror to heartfelt longing.  If taken care of these razors will last several lifetimes.  Imagine passing on a razor that you had for so many events in your life to your kids or even thier kids.  And like safety razors, you can purchase vintage razors and really be sustainable. 

Suffice it to say I'm going for the straight razor.  But how does one pick out a straight razor?


  1. Yikes be careful in your endeavor. I hear there are blade sharpeners which increase your usage with the safety razor...

  2. Very good point about the sharpener. I don't have any experience with them. They seem like they would extend the life of the blades and save $. I guess the trade off would be another gadget bought that was "designed for the dump" and whatever power source it takes.

    I actually just bought a straight razor (used in good condition) but it will be a couple of weeks before I use it. Got to practice!