How can I reuse or recycle disposable razors?

Double-Edged Safety Razors

Safety razors use a single double-edged (DE) razor blades. Unlike multi-blade cartridge razors, they are not wrapped in plastic. DE blades can be sharpened to extend their lives and are easily recycled, making them a zero-waste commodity. Because loose razor blades can be dangerous for recycling workers to sort, it is encouraged to tuck single blades into an aluminum can or collect used blades in a blade bank.

Ironically, Gillette and Schick got their start selling safety razors with DE blades. However, their products have morphed into multi-blade, disposable environmental monstrosities.

Stainless steel safety razors typically have a greater up-front cost than disposables, but quickly pay for themselves in durability and an incredibly low environmental impact. You can spend between $7.99 to $599 on a safety razor. The point is to buy one razor to last a lifetime. Here are a few brands that stood out to me:

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Preserve

A Certified B Corp, Preserve has been creating household products out of recycled plastic since 1996 – from toiletries to kitchenware to tote bags. Preserve’s Shave 5 Razor System features a razor handle made from recycled plastic that can be re-recycled through its Gimme 5 send-back program. This program has recycled 80 million yogurt cups since 2007 and has drop-off bins at many Whole Foods locations.

However, Preserve admittedly hasn’t yet figured out how to recycle their 5-blade heads… which don’t appear to be made from recycled materials. A few reviews suggest the replacement heads can be hard to replace, but at least the lubricant strip is organic and vegan. Nevertheless, this razor system is heading in the right direction and perhaps a stepping stone for those not ready to give up multi-blade heads and lubricant strips cold turkey.

​How Do I Get Rid of My Safety Razor Blades?

So maybe you've decided to ditch the disposables, and decided to try wet shaving with a safety razor. Good for you! Now that you've decided to use a safety razor, you're probably wondering where to ditch your old razor blades.

You can get rid of them in a thing called a "blade bank." These are little receptacles that are specifically made to be little trash cans for old razors. They include a little slit at the top, so razor blades go in, and don't come back out. They're structurally sound, too, so they won't get crushed and have the blades leak out.

If you think about it, blade banks are a really, really good idea: even rusty blades are sharp enough to cut through skin (and to do so in a jagged way, if they're blades that have been used a few times), and tossing them in the rubbish bin is dangerous for anyone in your house or apartment (such as kids or pets or whoever cleans the room), and they're dangerous for the men and women who handle the trash after we've disposed of it. Having a specific, safe location to toss old razors and then recycle them is important.

The fascinating part is, if you use a blade bank, you're basically using a little recycling center. You've collected all of your old steel razors in the same place, and when the bank is full, you can contact your local recycling center​ and see if they will accept razor blades. If not, you simply toss your blade bank in the garbage, and rest easy knowing that the blades won't injure the trash removal professionals who take your garbage away, because they're safe within the blade bank.  

There are some models you can buy (West Coast Shaving has a very simple one), but you can make your own, as well. These can actually be really interest art projects—when you create your own blade bank, you can decorate it any way you like.

Can Disposable Razors Be Environmentally Friendly?

Surely there’s a solution?

Surely someone, somewhere, has invented a disposable razor that can be composted after use to help me feed my herb garden?

Sometimes, not every solution is that simple.

The reality is, that while many of us have some disposable razors at home, and there’s no doubt they’re useful for the frequent traveler, a disposable razor just isn’t environmentally friendly.

In fact, plastic razors have been called the new plastic straw.

If you are using disposable razors, the best thing that you can do is to look up a local recycling program in your area. You might get lucky and find one in your district that will accept difficult to recycle items like this.

By now you’ll have realised that disposable razors aren’t the best for the environment.

Don’t worry, there’s a solution.

​If Youre Currently Using a Disposable

If you've strolled around our site, you may have noticed that we are fairly obsessed with the benefits of wet shaving with a straight razor or safety razor. We do our best to convert the unconverted, and spread the message of wet shaving to those who haven't heard it, because it's benefited our lives so tremendously.

That said, we understand that there are still many, many men who prefer to use a disposable razor. To each his own, we say! It's our opinion that shaving with a straight or safety razor is a far, far more pleasant experience than shaving with a disposable, but we respect the right of absolutely everyone to do their own thing. More power to you.

That said…

If you use disposables and you want to be greener, we'd suggest you research wet shaving. There are dozens of fantastic wet shaving websites, and hundreds (if not thousands) of wet shaving tutorials on YouTube. Go ahead and see what all the noise is about—you may find that not only do you enjoy wet shaving, but your grooming habits have become much more green.

Are There Eco-Friendly Disposable Razors?

Disposable razors are made of plastic. They are also sometimes referred to as cartridge razors.

Because they are made from plastic, they are not eco-friendly. Not only are plastics made from petroleum products, but they are not biodegradable either. 

Add to that the fact that most disposable razors can only be used six to nine times before they become useless, and it’s not difficult to come to the conclusion that disposable razors are a very wasteful product.

If you’re still not convinced that such a small item can have such a big impact on the environment, consider the following facts about plastic pollution:

  • Less than 20 percent of all plastic produced around the world is recycled
  • The U.S. only recycles nine percent of its plastic garbage
  • Around eight percent of the world’s entire oil production is used to manufacture plastic
  • It’s estimated that by 2050, 20 percent of the world’s entire oil production will be used to manufacture plastic. 

It’s also worth noting that you can’t just toss your disposable razors into the recycling bin since the blade part of the head cannot be recycled using traditional recycling means.

Disposable plastic razors can only be used 6 to 9 times and can't be recycled. Click To Tweet

However, even though the majority of disposable razors are not eco-friendly, there are some disposable razors out there that are made out of recycled plastic.  

Additionally, there are a few companies that offer recycling programs – although this would require you to either mail your used disposable razors back to them or to bring them to a drop off center to be recycled.

For example, Gillette recently teamed up with TerraCycle to develop the Razor Recycling Program, which provides an address to which you can ship any used disposable razors of any brand for recycling.

Scrap yourrazormetal

While they won’t recycle the whole razor, you can take stainless steel razor blades to the local scrap metal recycling plant to have them melted for cash. First, remove the blades from their handles and clean any residue off. Then, head on down to the scrap metal facility to drop them off. Be sure to check with an employee, since some plants may have special safety protocols for handling the sharp blades. 

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