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Sustainable Swaps highlights the reusable products that real people use to lower their impact on the planet. From sturdy metal razors to cotton swabs that last a lifetime, these swaps have impressed us — and have made the switch to sustainable living easier.
The first plastic safety razor you ever used is likely still out there, hanging out in a landfill. In fact, nearly all plastic ever created still exists today. This includes heaps of grade school sandwich bags, all your empty shampoo bottles and every single plastic water bottle you’ve ever used. And it also includes billions and billions of those darn safety razors.
When looking to make sustainable swaps, switching out plastic razors for metal, reusable options is an obvious trade. But most metal razors are incredibly different from the drugstore razors you know. Reusable razors often only have single blades and static heads. For face shaving, that may be fine. But for body shaving, like legs, armpit and intimate areas, that construction poses a problem. The single blade can get clogged quickly and aren’t ideal for a large surface area like legs, making for an ineffective shave. Not only that, but the static heads of metal razors can cause more nicks and cuts than usual.
Personally, I tried to make the swap to metal razors a couple of years ago, but quickly became frustrated by the shortcomings — that’s until I found Leaf razors. Leaf makes sustainable metal razors with pivoting heads that hug the curves of your body. The brand also allows you to insert one, two or three blades to help customize your shave. Leaf razors have quickly gained popularity in sustainability circles for making eco-friendly shaving less of a pain.
Shop: Chrome Leaf Razor, $79
Leaf razors are made of metal, providing a sturdy construction that will likely last indefinitely with proper care. To use the razor, you snap typical thin metal blades in half and insert up to three into the razor head. Then, you shave as normal. It’s pretty simple. But by disposing of only the metal blades once they are dull, you are greatly decreasing your environmental impact. Plus, after you collect a stockpile of used blades in a blade disposer container, you can send the tin back to Leaf and the brand will recycle it for you. That’s right: shaving with zero landfill impact.
Even with a pivoting head, there is still a slight learning curve to the razor, mainly because the blades are far sharper than your standard disposable razor. You need to practice to learn how to use a lighter hand and how to gently glide the more weighted metal-head across your skin. Though you may end up with a few nicks and cuts at first, the sharp blades are ultimately a good thing, allowing for a closer shave.
Though the $79 price tag of a Leaf razor may seem steep, the razor will likely save you hundreds or even thousands in the long run. After purchasing the razor mechanism, you only need to replace blades. A 50-pack of blades from Leaf is $14 but gives you 100 edges since you are snapping the blades in half. That’s equal to more than 33 three-blade razors.
Personally, my switch to Leaf has been practically seamless, giving me the smooth skin I’m used to from drugstore razors without the harmful plastic waste. The razor is easy to clean with water while shaving, and wiping with alcohol after each use helps keep rust away. It’s a simple, yet incredibly impactful swap.
Shop: Leaf Shave Kit, $89.99 (Orig. $104)
A common statistic cited by low-waste advocates is that the United States produces two billion disposable razors and blades each year. That figure comes from a 1990 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The agency, however, no longer tracks the impact of disposable razors on the environment, according to USA Today. But more recent studies estimate more than 163 million people in the U.S. currently use disposable razors. And these millions upon millions of plastic razors are largely considered non-recyclable.
“[Facilities] can’t make a profit from [disposable razors], so it’s deemed non-recyclable,” Stephanie Moses from TerraCycle, a recycling company specializing in hard-to-recycle items, told HuffPost in 2019.
If you want to lower your impact, consider making the swap to a metal razor. And if you want something that will quickly make you forget your favorite plastic drugstore razor, consider Leaf. Trust me.
If you liked this story, check out these sustainable toothbrushes for another easy, impactful swap.
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