To me, the scariest part of going zero waste was not shopping with bulk bags, composting, or asking for takeout in my own containers. It was switching to a safety razor (and menstrual cup, but more on that later). YouTube videos depicted long, seemingly complicated shave routines requiring brushes, creams, and balms. Forums spun gory tales of bloodthirsty blades wreaking havoc on delicate areas. Research yielded the unsatisfactory conclusion that reducing my environmental impact- according to the EPA, over two billion disposable razors end up in landfills each year- would require learning to shave all over again.
I appear vaguely Asian in countenance, but I'm 50% my dad's indeterminate swirl of ethnicities physiognomically, so my hair is coarser and there's more of it than the average, considerably less hirsute Korean. Fifth grade was a watershed year; I shaved ever since, drying the plastic-encased blade after each use. Most blades lasted around twelve months. If I'd been more diligent, I could have used them even longer! Still, that's a lot of cartridges and shave gel containers in the trash. What once made me feel grown-up and sophisticated soon made me self-conscious, thanks to chicken legs and razor burn. Venus wasn't easy on the allowance, either (remember when Jewel sang that weird song for the Schick Intuition commercials?).
When my interest in zero waste grew, I resolved to use up the last cartridges and switch to a safety razor. I braced myself for a lifetime of 30° angles, anticipating a sharp increase in nicks and cuts. Reading online, it sounded like women were at a distinct disadvantage when it came to safety razors, like shorter handles made shaving difficult, nearly impossible. Here are some of the unfounded myths I encountered during research. Spoiler alert: The "myth" classification is based solely on my own overwhelmingly positive experiences with safety razor shaving.
In short, I experienced significant time and money savings, no learning curve, and a markedly smoother, longer-lasting shave after switching to a safety razor. Less shaving means less water used and less trash! We could argue that not shaving at all is more environmentally friendly, and hairlessness merely a normative cultural imperative. However, it's far too late for me. Not shaving makes me itchy. If you're looking to switch, please use up any disposables at home first. I recommend a long handled razor (you can even buy vintage) with a butterfly head for easy cleaning- adjustable models are available, though I don't miss that feature one bit. Dry the blade afterwards, storing in a drawer or medicine cabinet. Some recommend keeping the blade in oil to prevent oxidation. Moisturize as usual, apply deodorant, whatever you normally do. Prefer waxing? Click here for a zero waste Oriental sugaring tutorial.