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I believe in adopting sustainable practices in our daily or recurring maintenance activities. Recently, I measured the amount of water I spend at the sink and shifted to mug-based shaving (rinsing the razor by dipping it in a mug of water). However, there is another thing that troubles me, the use of plastic in my preferred razor.

Mostly, I use the Gillette Mach 3 razor . I have tried other cheaper razors as well, but I have settled with this for a balance of cost and skin care. I am aware of stainless steel blades that are cheap that'll go into steel razor slots but I am afraid they may cut my skin, I tend to be careless and lost in thought while shaving, LoL.

The Mach 3 lasts a month or so for me and I shave once in three days. Is there an equivalently comfortable (not-cutting-skin guaranteed) razor that does not use plastic, and at comparable (or little higher) cost, i.e. $2 per cartridge ? Come to think of it, I won't mind spending more for a sustainable alternative with equivalent benefits ?

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  • The true master of knives shaves with a cut-throat razor. Such razors used to be passed on from generation to generation, so they are pretty sustainable, but require skill, both in use and in maintenance. I prefer cut-throat razors to multi-bladed razors (razor burn) and getting a close shave is also a matter of skill, but you have to invest more time.
    – Earthliŋ
    Dec 10 '15 at 23:29
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    FWIW I suspect that the production and disposal/recycling of the metals have a similar or perhaps even bigger environmental impact than the production and disposal of the plastic.
    – THelper
    Dec 11 '15 at 8:02
  • oh is it, dint know this angle, i thought we are better off with metals than with plastic.
    – Whirl Mind
    Dec 11 '15 at 11:16
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    If you care for your razor heads, they'll stay sharp and last for months. You take care of them by rinsing well, tapping the water off and storing them so the air can move freely around them. I change my razor heads once per month or two when they start tugging more than cutting.
    – Escoce
    Dec 11 '15 at 17:20
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    @Earthliŋ yes, often from the user of a cut-throat razor to their male next of kin, or from the user's widow to his son.
    – Ⴖuі
    Dec 11 '15 at 21:20
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I'm an energy consultant - I'm also aware of the environmental impacts of plastic - however; I still have to ask, what is the issue with plastic?

The only thing more sustainable than plastic is SOME wood IF it is carefully cared for.

The carbon embedded in the production of plastic is VERY low compared to say aluminium, stainless etc... Plastic is a great material with a lot of bad press and an unfortunately low price.

Sustainability comes from the whole life cycle of a product and a consideration of the materials with the lowest embedded energy consumption. If the life cycle is correctly managed - plastic is hard to argue with - even the disposable heads.

My suggestion: look at how you dispose of plastic - and aim to do so more sustainably.

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    I keep aside all throwaway items with reusable material separately, and give away to the scrap dealer once in a few months. Between the two, metal and plastic, is it true that metal has a chance of recycling better than plastic ? Is plastic as reusable as steel/aluminium ? I was thinking of the decay time also as a consideration apart from carbon component.
    – Whirl Mind
    Dec 13 '15 at 9:46
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    Correct - most plastics tend to degenerate each time they are processed. Whereas metals are more stable.
    – user20110
    Dec 14 '15 at 15:14
  • The problem is with mixed materials. Separating out less than a gram of stainless steel from two or three types of plastic in a disposable razor is a lot of work expended for little return (this is why some countries burn plastic). The advantage of most safety razors when they finally fail is that they're generally steel and aluminium, which can be (and sometimes are, even today) separated by melting out the aluminium then collecting the steel from the bottom of the pot when there's enough for it to be worth while. Ideally you would separate them but... 99% of people don't.
    – Móż
    Aug 23 at 0:25
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Until I see a lifecycle analysis of safety razor shaving vs. electric shaving to show electric is more sustainable (less water, less soap etc.), I would say safety razor wet-shaving seems to be the most sustainable and accessible, at least vs. plastic cartridge razors where you have to routinely throw away mixed metal+plastic pieces that will never be recycled:

  • the razor itself is mechanically very simple (if you ignore "butterfly" and 2-piece designs and just go for 3-piece) and if it's made of good metals with good surface plating it can last you decades, and then be recycled (especially if it's stainless steel, brass or aluminium)
  • the blades are made of mostly stainless steel plus a little plating material and AFAIK can be melted down and recycled at specialized centers (but generally don't go around throwing them in "yellow bins" or other generic recyclables bins, they need special handling because they're sharp).

There's no reason to be afraid of safety razors as a general design - there are models that have so little blade exposure they're even safer than Mach types, and in fact can get annoying with how little hair they're cutting off with each pass (depending also on how much hair growth you allow between shaves). If you start off with a model generally reviewed as "mild" you won't be in significantly more danger than with the plastic razors.

Straight razors might be even more sustainable, but as someone else pointed out above they require skill and patience that many people don't have, and when used wrong or if accidents happen with them they can be quite dangerous (there's a reason they put the word "safety" in "safety razor").

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However, there is another thing that troubles me, the use of plastic in my preferred razor.

This is not a problem at all.

Plastic is a chemical that is made from oil.

Oil can be made from trees.

Therefore, plastic can be made from trees too.

Using plastic should not be avoided, you should instead just ensure that (1) you use so little plastic that your share of the trees on this planet is enough to make all plastic you use, and (2) that the plastic is burned to energy at the end of its lifetime to prevent it from getting to the oceans. The important thing here is that the humans on this planet use so little plastic that only few percent of oil consumption is needed to create it. So for example somebody who argues that hey gasoline can be made from trees too so I'll continue driving my gasoline car, is wrong, because gasoline is used in such large quantities that no way could the trees on the planet supply enough oil to create enough gasoline.

Perhaps some very large excessive use of single-use plastic could be avoided, but I'd say 99% of plastic use is not excessive. Also something that 100% certainly distributes microplastics to the environment like a weed whacker with plastic cutting line instead of steel cutting blade can be argued to be bad.

I am aware of stainless steel blades that are cheap that'll go into steel razor slots

You seem to think that steel is somehow better than plastics.

It's not. Like plastics that are made from oil, steel is made from iron ore reduced using coal. So the steel production today is one of the dirtiest things human race does, emitting nearly 10% of the CO2 emissions caused by humans on this planet. I'd say actually that if we compare the emissions of plastic production to the emissions of steel production, it's steel that creates more CO2 emissions than plastics.

Actually if there's some material that's evil, it's concrete. Cement production for making concrete requires a chemical reaction that releases CO2 and there's no way to avoid that CO2 emission because it's part of the reaction. Sure you could capture the CO2 but then there's the question if it's economical to ship it to an area with geological formations that can be used to store CO2 and if the formation is stable enough to retain it for hundreds of millenia. And if we even have enough many such formations to store all CO2 produced by cement making.

Fortunately, like you shouldn't avoid plastics (because they can be made from trees), there's no reason to avoid steel (because iron ore can be reduced using hydrogen created by electrolysis fueled by renewable wind and solar power). Concrete however should probably be avoided if it's an option to use something like wood instead.

Come to think of it, I won't mind spending more for a sustainable alternative with equivalent benefits ?

If you believe that plastic should be made sustainably, invest a few dollars into a company that aims to create all different things from trees that can be made from it. Like UPM or Stora Enso. They are investing to find new uses of trees to replace the thing that was their main product long time ago, paper.

Your belief that plastic use is somehow harmful is wrong. And your belief that steel is somehow better than plastic is wrong too, actually plastic is better today in the quantities we make it when compared to steel in the quantities we make it.

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If you wanna avoid disposeable razors 1: Get a straight razor If you don't have the skill to use it or afraid to 2: Get an electric

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