Personal Sustainability Challenge May Edition – ditching the disposable razors

A rigorous documentation of 24 hours of neck-beard growth, highlighting both the coarseness and density of neck-beard hairs.

A rigorous documentation of 24 hours of neck-beard growth, highlighting both the coarseness and density of neck-beard hairs.

I am what most people would consider a “well-bearded” individual. According to this graph, I fall rather appropriately into the category of “Sea Captain”. Despite my proud embeardedness, I also play host to a horrifying parasite frequently referred to as a “neck beard”–a foul nest of bristles with a coarseness and consistency that lies somewhere between steel wool and dermal denticles. This means that, appearances aside, I still need to shave, sometimes twice, daily.

If you’re like most American men, this means using either disposable razors or cartridge razors, both of which result in discarded plastic and steel. Cartridge razors, commonly found with an increasingly horrifying numbers of blades, vibrators, laser pointers, and PEZ dispensers, produce less waste but are also more expensive. The average price for the three-bladed monster at my local pharmacy runs about $4.00 a cartridge, and those things don’t last very long–I’m lucky if I can get 2 weeks out of a single cartridge, often less (although, somehow, the very last cartridge in each pack seems to last 3 times longer than the others). In addition to wasting plastic and steel in the actual cartridges, and plastic and cardboard in the packaging, I’m burning around $100 per year.

There are a few possible ways to reduce shaving associated waste. The most obvious is switching to an electric razor–which is what our other beardly blogger did until recently (he now reports that “My beard used to destroy electrics in less than a year.“)–but the cutting heads need to be replaced and they will, eventually wear out. I’m also not a fan of electric razors, I don’t particularly like the shave I get with them. Next on the list are single-blade safety razors, the classic standard of the 1930’s through 80’s. These have the advantage of no plastic, and allegedly get you a closer, cleaner shave than disposables (though I suspect that has more to do with the brush/lather and spending more time on getting a good shave), but the blades are still disposable. So, it appears as though, if I truly want to eliminate as much waste as possible from my shaving routine, I need to take a more traditional approach.

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