man lathering face with a shaving brush

I can vividly recall my dad’s Old Spice shaving soap mug. The white mug with the little boat on it contained a small puck of shaving soap and always sat on the bathroom sink along with his shaving brush. He would wet the fine-haired brush to lather up the soap in the mug and then spread the lather on his face before shaving.

I loved the smell of the soap; that Old Spice scent still reminds me of my dad and my childhood days. Today, I can have the same experience sustainably.

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Although Old Spice no longer sells their classic shaving mug or shaving soap in a bar, I was delighted to find all sorts of durable shaving bowls online, like the classic ceramic mug or a stainless steel bowl. You can also find shaving brushes (some with stands) and shaving soaps like Williams Mug. I think that, along with an old fashioned metal razor, this would make a great sustainable shaving kit. You don’t need to purchase cans of foam or packages of disposable plastic razors to get a nice shave.

It has been over a year since I have used disposable razors. I prefer to use a metal razor with lathered bar soap to get a close, smooth shave. Getting used to the weight and feel of the metal razor was a bit of a challenge at first, but once I got used to it, I was using it all of the time. I passed along my unused disposable razors to someone who could use them.

Thinking of Dad and his shaving equipment, it occurred to me that I might also use a shaving brush to apply lather to my skin before shaving. I could use an old ceramic mug (even one with a broken handle would do) to hold the bar soap. This is a great way to use up slivers of soap that are too small for use in washing your hands or body. Every bit of soap can be used up this way. (If you are ambitious, you can make new bars of soap from your leftover pieces that are just the right size for the mug.)

So, that eliminates shaving soap waste. For used metal razor blades, you can seal them tightly in a metal can to put in your curbside recycling. It’s important to make sure they are secured in the can so they don’t harm recycling workers. Another option is to call around to metal scrapyards in your area to see if they will take them for recycling.

As to the plastic disposable razors, you can try to find out if the manufacturer has a take-back program for their product. And TerraCycle has some programs for recycling this waste; if you collect disposable razors within your organization or community group, the programs are a great way to divert disposable plastic razors and packaging from a landfill.

It seems to me that the easiest road to waste-free shaving is to avoid buying disposable products in the first place. With my metal razor and bar soap, I don’t have to find creative disposal methods and I get a good shave.

By Joanna Lacey

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.