It is estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that 2 billion plastic razors are thrown away each year. Mind you, this statistic is just for the United States – it doesn’t account for any usage and disposal of single-use razors that’s seen across the globe. In 2021, Albatross Designs created a blog post on the connections between plastic and climate change. We’d like to expand on our original post to specifically address the environmental implications of single-use plastic razors. And, subsequently, express the importance of ditching your single-use shaver and replacing it with a zero waste safety razor.
- Single-use plastic razors require plastic refill cartridges and both the razor itself and the cartridges are wrapped in, you guessed it, plastic. As we mentioned in our connections between plastic and climate change blog post, the production of plastic emits a lot of greenhouse gases. Plastics are derived from fossil fuels, which means that in order to manufacture plastic items, greenhouse gases are emitted to not only extract fossil fuels, but to also transport them and refine them into plastic. The plastic lifecycle (fossil fuel extraction → plastic manufacturing → transportation of plastic → item disposal) is causing levels of greenhouse gas emissions that are threatening our ability to keep global temperature rise below 2°C (source: Center for International Environmental Law). As such, a clear line can be drawn between the production of single-use, plastic items like disposable razors (and the monumental amount of plastic needed to package and sell them) and climate change.
- Most of us are familiar with the devastating consequences of abandoned plastics ending up in our ocean or on our beaches: sea turtles mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish or birds choking on bottle caps they found buried in the sand. Well, the plastic razor is perhaps the most dangerous of all of these rogue plastics. Sharp items like razor blades require proper disposal. Unlike zero waste safety razors, plastic razors are like a double edged sword (pun intended) to the environment. They not only contribute to plastic pollution and clog up our waterways, they are also in and of themselves a harmful object. Not to say that a zero waste safety razor doesn’t also pose this risk, but the disposal rate for a plastic razor is much higher, and a plastic razor’s exposed blades are a threat to any unsuspecting sea animal, or even well meaning beach cleaner-upper, that comes into contact with them. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to use a product like a zero waste safety razor that doesn’t have a harmful afterlife once you’re done using it.
- Not that recycling should be our solution for everything (we should all explore the other 4 R options before resorting to recycling), but regardless, most single-use plastic razors cannot be recycled. Since disposable razors are composed of several different materials, they tend to be a challenge to recycle properly. Between the hard plastic handle, rubber grip, and metal blades, there are too many components all together that can only be recycled if they are separated (source: HuffPost). In 2018, only 8.7% of all plastics generated in the U.S. were recycled, with the rest going to landfill or being incinerated (source: EPA). Between the inability to give plastic razors a useful afterlife and the fact that a large majority of plastics are not even recycled, it’s highly indicative that we need a mindset shift away from disposable plastics and to reusable items like zero waste safety razors.
- We’ve laid out some pretty grim statistics here but – rest assured – it’s never too late to make the switch to a zero waste safety razor! As individuals, the best thing we can do is make sustainable choices within our own lives. We may not be able to control everything, but we do have the power to control our own actions and make the choice to go the more eco-friendly route with a zero waste safety razor, like an Albatross shaver. Further eliminate any waste generated through your shaving routine by sending your used blades back to us through our Blade Take Back Program. And help us put an end to the need for other types of single-use plastics by gearing up with a set of Take Back Ware, our compact travel utensil kit.