Shaving Sustainably

Here at Mapawatt we focus a lot on energy and water conservation, but today I'm going to cover a great company that is the true embodiment of sustainability: Preserve.  I recently purchased their 4-pack double razor package because I was tired of buying the disposable razors and I don't like spending a fortune on the 5-blade razor refills with cool animations of how they cut down to your skin.

Let me set the scene by telling you a little more information about my facial shaving habits than your probably need or care to know.

First, I have sensitive skin and am susceptible to razor burn.

Second, I have light colored facial hair and luckily it doesn't grow fast.  So while I will never grow a manly beard (this is one of the reasons I can't get into the Taliban.  The other reasons are that I think they are nuts, that whole religious barrier, and ....ok, this is a very bad attempt at a joke.)  But really, I can't grow a beard.  Or even a mustache for that matter.  So I don't have to shave that often, but when I do, I want it to be a good shave without irritation.

Third, I've tried the following to shave my face: an electric razor, a fancy shmancy 5-blade razor, shaving in the shower, shaving with a 2-blade disposable razor, shaving with white inexpensive shaving cream that I used to "shave" with my dad 25 years ago (he kept the safety guard on for me), and shaving with a fancy gel shaving cream with names like "cool river".   I've tried all types of shaving methods to prevent razor burn, but none have seemed to work....until now.

Before I discovered the 2-blade recycled razors from Preserve, I was using a 2-blade disposable razor.  The cheap kind from the drugstore.  I actually felt that more than 2 blades would irritate my skin, and 1 blade was worse (and so 1930's).  But I was having qualms about throwing away a perfectly good razor body every time the blade got dull.  While this type of razor seemed to perform the best, it was also probably the worst for the environment.

And this is why I purchased the razors from Preserve the instant one of the Mapawatt team members told me about it.  The reason I'm such a fan is that the razor handles, the part that contains the most plastic which was just being thrown away, are made from 100% recycled number 5 plastic!  In this case that plastic came from recycled yogurt cups.  Many cities (including mine) don't accept number 5 plastic in their recycling streams, so I was excited to see a market had been created where this plastic could be used.  From Preserve's page describing their process:

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Those are the principles that have driven our company since 1996 and that motivate us to encourage more households to choose our 100% recycled and recyclable products over conventional products.

Our plastic products are made from #5 polypropylene plastic collected from individuals via our Gimme 5 program and from companies like Stonyfield Farm®. We take this plastic, sort it, clean it, test it, recycle it, and turn it into new Preserve products.

Choosing Preserve Plastic (in the form of a toothbrush or razor, for example) means a sizeable reduction in greenhouse gases emitted, and significantly less water, energy, oil, natural gas, and coal used in making plastic.

The great thing is that Preserve makes it easy to turn your used yogurt cups into recycled product.  But they don't only make razors, they also make toothbrushes, tableware, kitchenware, etc.  And the best part, the razors are priced well too!  I just purchased my first set of replacement blades.  Five blades were $5.25.  And while the blades may not have recycled content, at least I don't have to throw away a whole razor.  I can still use the recycled plastic razor handles.

This isn't an advertisement and I'm getting no form of reimbursement to write this review.  In fact, Preserve doesn't even know about this, but I'm guessing they'll find out once it is published.  I just like to reward companies who set out to do the right thing.  I wish more companies would focus on selling sustainable products

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Very cool product! It's great how more and more companies are making products from recycled plastics. I think these companies should take things one step further by creating programs to retrieve disposed of products. In theory, shouldn't these razors get picked up and re-made into more razors?
ckmapawatt's picture
John, I think you are missing the point. This company is creating a value stream for waste (yogurt cups) and then making that into a REUSABLE razor handle. I'll admit, I don't think I did a good job of making that clear. The handle is reusable, only the blades aren't (but no blades are, they go bad after a few shaves). So you are preventing virgin plastic (which comes from oil) being made into a disposable razor handle by buying a recycled plastic (from yogurt cups) in a reusable razor handle. There is no question that recycled plastic is better than plastic from oil. Where else do I deviate from normal standards? Our goal is to highlight operations that increase the sustainability of a household or community, and I think this is one instance where that is certainly the case.
Conservation is not easy. Sorry, I don't think this 'my plastic is better than your plastic' article is really up to your normal standards. It is important to keep the principles of reduce, reuse and recycle in the proper order. If a razor handle is reused for decades, that is a better choice than recycling plastic handles. ...John
Colgate is now selling packs of disposable single-use toothbrushes with paste already in them. No mention of recycling... See this blog page: Colgate is not walking their green talk!
My skin is sensitive too. The solution I have found is to avoid the shaving cream method entirely. Instead, I shave in the shower with bath soap. The key to a non-irritating shave is washing the face several times with soap to get the whiskers very moist (moist enough that they soften a little). Then, while still very wet, I lightly lubricate my beard with a little soapy lather and shave with a disposable razor. Rinse off in the shower and the results are amazingly close and pain free. After decades of non-irritating shaves, I will never shave over a sink again or pay for another can of shaving cream that will end up in a landfill. (Do turn off the shower to save water while shaving.)
ckmapawatt's picture
I agree that having the whiskers a little wet is important. I shave right after I get out of the shower. I've thought about getting an anti-fog mirror so I can shave in the shower (like you said, with the water off).
I haven't purchased any of the disposable razors yet, but I have bought some of the toothbrushes. I think I picked them up at Target. Anyhow, one thing that stood out to me was the fact that they came in a self addressed envelope to send it back once it all gnarled up. I also remember checking out their website and found that they had a plan where you pay around 12 or so and they just auto mail you a new toothbrush every 3 months. Very cool! They also have local plastic drives at green life for collecting the plastic. I hadn't thought about my recycler not taking #5 plastic. I should check on that. I have a habit of just throwing everything in I think is recyclable without actually doing the research first. I know that's horrible for single stream collection systems, but who wants to go look it up every time you get a new product. After I bought my toothbrush I also noticed Preserve had containers a lot of the grocery stores around here collecting the plastic. I'll chalk that up to things you notice after some self discovery, but overall I think those are some really creative ways to develop a business.

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