One Small Metal Step

Recently as I was scrolling somewhat mindlessly through social media, and I came across an album of pictures depicting various animals that have been either killed or seriously injured due to pollution in the Oceans. We have seen a lot of these sorts of things lately and for good reason. Our oceans and our planet as a whole are in big trouble. If we don’t really start doing something about it now, our children and grandchildren are not going to have much of a future. This is no longer something that we can leave to the hippies and flower children (Long live the Hippies and Flower Children!). Its up to every one of us no matter what or who you are.

Like many, when trying to figure out how to do the best I can to help I have gotten overwhelmed by all the choices. When you start to look around at your home and your lifestyle it seems like every where you look and every thing you do in some way impacts the environment. Many people just give up. We think there is no way we can possibly make all those changes. There is no denying that there is a lot that needs to change. In every aspect of our lives. But this does not mean we have to do it all at once and it does not make us bad people to not be able to reduce our carbon foot print to practically nothing over night. That’s just not realistic for anyone. What we can do, is take it one step at a time and create new healthier habits for ourselves and the environment? There are resources all around us if we just slow down, do a little research, and give ourselves time. The key is remembering that creating a habit takes time and repetition. So be patient with yourself.

So after crying a bit over these very hard to look at images, I wanted to do something more. I have a few things in place already but I wanted to take a few more steps in the right direction. As an up-cycle artist I am always coming up with ways to give something discarded new life and I take pride in that. Because I am a small business owner I also have at least a little bit of a platform that maybe I can use to help get the word out there and help others learn and grow as well. Mind you I am no guru or influencer, although one can dream. I am just a girl with a big squishy heart that wants to help make a difference. So I thought maybe I could do some writing on what I am learning about. I want to address the not so obvious as well as the obvious and simple. Even if I only reach one person it will be worth it.

One of the images that really caught me off guard was an image of a water bird that had starved to death because its beak had been jammed into a disposable razor head. I will not torture you with that image. It hurts my heart just to type that sentence. So I have decided that my first article is going to be about how to be more environmentally responsible with razors. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports that 2 BILLION disposable razors are thrown away every year.

Let me first say that I am no expert. I have no official training. I encourage you to always do your own research. This is just the stuff I found that might be useful.

We are all in different stages of our journey to help heal the planet. Whatever stage you are at is ok. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to be perfect all at once. There are lots of factors that can come in to play that are personal to you and your situation. That’s why I have decided to do this as steps on the journey that anyone can pick up at whatever stage they are and make improvements or take the next step. It’s up to you.

The first step for me would be if you are using disposable single use razors. Here are some things you can do to make sure you are doing it the best way possible until you are ready to take the next step.

  • Store the one you are using hanging or blade up to avoid rust.
  • Try using a little bit of baby oil on the blades after use to keep them sharp and rust free longer.
  • Do a little research and find out if the razors you are using are made from recycled material. If its not, consider switching to one that is.
  • Find out what programs are in place in your area or what mail in programs are convenient to you to recycle disposable razors.
  • Make sure that when disposing of them you are putting the protective cap back on the razor so that whom ever comes in contact with them is not getting cut.

Some razor companies even have take back programs that allow you to send back your used products to be disposed of properly.

If you are ready to move on to the next step, maybe try investing in a razor that only the heads need to be changed and the handle stays the same. This comes with its own set of precautions.(Remember the bird picture?)

  • Research before purchase is really important. It can seem daunting when your favorite search engine throws a thousand different options at you. Try refining your search parameters with locations, specific materials, and the programs you are looking for.
  • Try to find a company that has a take back program so you can send the heads back to be recycled.
  • Try to find a razor handle that is made out of recycled or recyclable materials. Although plastic can be a very important part of some things, there are better materials that don’t cause as much pollution, and waste. Maybe try metal or wood. Even better a sustainable wood like bamboo or hemp. But don’t get too bogged down. Taking the step to switch is a good decision no matter what the handle material is made out of.
  • If you are disposing of the heads yourself make sure they are in some kind of a sharps container. You can order razor boxes on line or a simple home made container can be made out of a metal can. Just make sure that it is closed well before putting it in the bin. There are plenty of tutorials on line to show you how to make one.
  • You can also use the baby oil trick with these razors to help them stay sharp and rust free. (Don’t forget to recycle the baby oil bottle. )

So we have come this far. You have gotten rid of the disposable one piece razors. You are responsibly using the changeable head razors but you want to do more. Is there somewhere to go from here? Can you do better some how? Are your ready for the next step? Hang onto your stubble cuz now it gets really cool!

The next step in our journey is the single blade safety Razor. (Razor that houses one single razor blade that gets replaced when dulled) If you have never heard of them before go ahead and look them up. Go ahead….I’ll wait.

Ok now don’t panic. I know what your thinking. I am asking you to put a regular straight razor blade into this medieval looking devise and then apply it to parts of your body and ask it to remove hair and not skin. I must be crazy. Chances are you may have had a grand parent that used something similar. So isn’t that a step backwards? Yes! And that’s exactly what we need to be doing.

Hear me out… Before the age of disposable everything, we had products that lasted. One of the big keys to saving this planet is going back and reexamining those things and seeing what we can do to recreate those sustainable things in the modern world. It does take a little skill to use one safely, but the mechanism itself does a lot of the work for you. Back in the day there was usually an older role model that would teach you how to do these things. Now a days as we are going forward to the old ways we may not have that person that can teach us, but fear not! The internet is full of tutorials and how to’s that can help you learn the ancient ways.

So what are the major points to look out for if you are taking this next big step? I thought you would never ask.

  • As always, first do your research.
  • If you are unsure if this right for you, try getting a less expensive version first and try it out. Once you are a bit more comfortable and know for sure this is right for you then you can invest in a nice one.
  • Find a nice metal or wood Razor that you like from a reputable company. It may seem a little pricey but remember, this may be your razor for life…if you wish. Something you may even pass down to your kids. Its fun to take some time and find a cool one that really reflects your personality.
  • Try to find a company to get your blades from that offers a take back program. Some of the companies that sell the handles also have blade programs. They often even come with packaging and label to send your used blades back and they recycle them for you.
  • If you cannot find a good take back program or prefer to recycle the blades yourself, make sure that you are using some kind of a sharps container. You can order one on line or make one out of a metal can just liked we talked about with the replaceable heads. This keeps kids, animals and everyone in between, safe. And if you think about it, it would take a long time to fill one metal soup can with razor blades before you would have to recycle it.
  • Once you are ready to recycle them don’t just throw them in your house recycle bin. Find a metal recycling facility near you and drop it off. Consider it an adventure. Some facilities even pay for the metal you bring in.
  • If you don’t have a recycling facility near you there are some mail in places as well.
  • Oiling your blade will keep it sharp and rust free as we have talked about before so they will last longer. Check with the company you get your handle from. Some of them have great oils and other products too.
  • And of course keep all sharp blades in or out of the handle in a safe place away from kids and pets and nosy house guests.

Now I bet your thinking, that’s it. We have found the ultimate in environmentally friendly, tiny carbon foot print, doing the most in shaving paraphernalia. Nope. There is one more step. If you have come this far and still want to do more. If you want to never buy another implement of hair removal again. If you are ready to really earn your Captain Planet shaving badge, there is the ultimate Excalibur of shaving!

THE STRAIGHT RAZOR! (Ba Ba Buuuuum!!) Yes, Like Sweeny Todd. (This author does not in any way support any uses of a straight razor other than shaving. No matter how cool Johnny Depp is)

This beautiful timeless piece of metal is the end all be all of manual shaving technology and by far the simplest. One Blade to rule them all!! Elegant, timeless, sophisticated. The straight razor has been around since the time of the ancient Egyptians. And will probably be around for many years to come. In takes a little getting used to for sure, but it is not as hard, or dangerous as you may think. It can, with a little practice, be mastered easily.

Lets get to the main points.

  • This one is a big leap, and may not be for everyone. I recommend getting a good, inexpensive one first to learn and practice with, just like the last step. Decide if this is right for you before you invest in a really nice one. And if you do keep going you will have one for travel so you don’t have to take your good one out and risk loosing it.
  • Once you have decided this is right for you, as always, research. Find a reputable company, one that has been around for a while. Read reviews. Take your time and find the perfect one. Just like the safety razor you could potentially have this razor for the rest of your life and pass it down to the next generation. Find a nice one. Save up if you have to. Trust me its worth it.
  • There is one accessory you will need for a straight razor that you cant go with out. The strop. A strip of leather attached to a loop that is used to sharpen the razor. I suggest really doing your homework for this. Find a good one and learn how to use it properly. Internet to the rescue! However, if you do have an older friend or relative that has one please by all means seize the opportunity to bond with them and ask for a tutorial. You might just find out some really cool stuff about them.
  • Another great source of information and learning is the fetish community. If you know someone that is in that scene, there is a good chance they, or someone they know, can teach you how to use one.
  • Practice with this one for a while on less sensitive parts of the body that you can see easily. Like your arm or easily accessible part of the leg. With practice you can get just as close a shave as with modern multiple blades. Just please be realistic. If you find that its not working don’t push it. Safety first always.
  • Also I highly recommend looking up the wiki on the history of the straight razor. Its fascinating!
  • For a step in between there are also versions of the straight razor that take disposable blades.
  • Also straight razors are dominant hand specific so make sure you get the one right, or left, for you.

So there you have it folks. The evolution of the de-evolution of the shaving paraphernalia phenomenon. Its a lot of information, I know. Remember you don’t have to, and are not expected to just jump to the end and be a straight razor expert over night, or at all. Find the step that works for you. Make a commitment to take one step in the right direction. That’s all it takes to make a difference.

Here are a couple of other things to think about that can be helpful to the environment in the vast realm of shaving.

Take a look at the other shaving products you are using. Shaving cream, gel, after shave, lotions etc.. Are they environmentally friendly? Are they plant based and cruelty free? Is the packaging recyclable? Is the company ethical? These are simple questions we can ask about any product we use. If the answer is no to any of these questions, consider finding an alternative. Or if you really want to have some fun, maybe try making your own.

Have you always wanted to go natural? What better way to save on shaving products then to just not shave at all. I know this is a super personal choice and not for everyone. But if you have always wanted to and just haven’t done it yet, now is the time. Our world is changing. Our society is changing. More and more people are making the person choice not to shave. Its your body and your hair. Do with it as your please. I am aware that there are still circumstances in the world where this is not acceptable and if you do not feel comfortable or safe by all means do not put your self in danger. Do what you feel is right for you. But if you do get the chance to go natural, even if its just for a bit, I highly recommend it. Flower wreaths and bongo drums optional…..But fun.

Some say that electric razors are an option. Defiantly not as disposable as a plastic razor and convenient for sure. Its not my first choice as electric razors are still made with all kinds of plastics and don’t last forever and when they do die they are even harder to recycle. But that’s more of a personal opinion for me. If you like them by all means go for it. Its still better than throwing away a whole plastic hand razor every other week.

One more little environmental thing. Think about your water consumption. Shaving takes time. Turning off the water while you are shaving saves water and energy in heating the water, which saves the environment and your wallet.

I hope that you have found this article informative and entertaining and maybe even learned a few things. I know I did. I would love to hear from you. What stage of the journey are you on? How are things going? Share with me your new stuff if you have made a purchase towards a better future in shaving. Let me know if there is something I didn’t cover that you would like to know about. Give me your ideas for future posts.

Thanks for reading and remember to share with your friends!

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