Sustainibility: Lifestyles for today and tomorrow

My aversion to disposable products gave rise to a quest for a sustainable and affordable alternative for shaving.

Although I truly hate to shave my legs, when it gets hot enough for shorts I cave in to cultural pressure.

For several years, I used an electric razor and when it stopped doing a good job I made an attempt to find someone local to repair it. No such luck.

This spring, I pulled my reusable handle and remaining blades out of the back of a bathroom drawer. All was well and good until I used up the blades.

Even with coupons I just couldn’t make myself plunk out a wad of cash for replacement blades. Nor could I bite the bullet and buy less expensive disposables. What a pickle.

In my search for the most sustainable method of shaving I uncovered many interesting tidbits of information.

Disposable razors are enticing because they are just so darn cheap. However, it is important to take the entire lifecycle into consideration.

Manufacturing disposable razors from virgin materials consumes lots of energy, water and basic petrochemical ingredients. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in the United States alone about 2 billion of these disposable suckers end up in landfills each year.

Some alternatives to disposable razors require major adjustments while others are relatively painless.

For guys, one option is the throwback straight razor used in barber shops. The initial cost of a new blade is steep and there is a definite learning curve before mastering the art of shaving with this baby. It’s best not to think of “Sweeney Todd” when considering this path.

For a more optimistic approach to straight razors go to http://www.motherearthnews.com/Do-It-Yourself/1972-03-01/How-To-Use-A-Straight-Razor.aspx.

Both guys and dolls can revert to safety razors with a metal handle and flat, two-sided blades. Although no plastic is involved and only the blades get pitched, avoiding nicks and handling the ultra-sharp blades do make this option a little scary.

You may have better luck than I did with an electric razor but, when the charger is constantly plugged in, it can draw a fair amount of electricity.

Switching to a razor with an extended-use handle and replacement blades is a small change, just be prepared for the astounding price of replacement blades. At least the quality of these blades is a step up from disposables.

I ended up buying ergonomic, colorful Preserve razors and replacement blades made by Recycline in the good old US of A. Four twin blade razors with five additional replacement blades were under $13, including shipping, and will get me through several years.

The No. 5 plastic handles are made completely from recycled plastic, primarily Stoneyfield Farm yogurt cups. When I am done with them they can be recycled through Waste Management or GJ CRI.

According to a Life Cycle Assessment, the manufacturing process for recycled handles uses much less of all necessary components and produces considerably less greenhouse gases. You can watch a video of the process and learn more about Recycline at http://www.preserveproducts.com.

The twin blade handle and blades are only available online, but you can buy a single triple blade model with four replacement blades at Natural Grocers for about $14.

In my version of a perfect world we would not wage war on body hair, but accept it a part of our natural state.

For now, I’ll opt for an eco-friendly, reasonably priced, recycled and recyclable razor with disposable blades. Cheaper and greener, who could ask for anything more?

Adele Israel is a Grand Junction writer who has been involved in sustainability efforts for some 20 years. Have a question or column idea for Adele? Email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).



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