Shaving is a daily ritual for millions of men and women worldwide. Unfortunately, most commercial shaving supplies aren’t environmentally friendly. Plastic razor waste aside, ingredients in shaving products may harm your body and the environment. For example, many popular shaving creams contain triethanolamine (a combination of ethylene oxide and ammonia) and propylene glycol — a main ingredient in antifreeze and brake fluid. Contact with triethanolamine has been linked to allergic reactions while contact with propylene glycol has been connected to allergies, eczema, and asthma.
Shaving without mindfully sourcing your supplies puts harmful chemicals like propylene glycol and triethanolamine back into the water ecosystem. These chemicals get absorbed by fish and other organic matter and can end up back on someone’s kitchen table.
Canned shaving creams also contain hydrocarbon propellants like butane or propane to make the product foam. Hydrocarbons are harmful to the environment because they’re a source of greenhouse gases.
The good news? Nontoxic shaving supplies exist and building an eco-friendly shaving kit won’t cost as much as you think. From your toiletry bag to your razor, here are seven must-have supplies for your eco-friendly shaving kit.
1. An Eco-Friendly Vegan Toiletry Bag
A vegan toiletry bag is the foundation for an earth-friendly shaving kit, but finding one that’s also eco-friendly isn’t easy. The majority of leather alternatives use polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a toxic material that isn’t biodegradable. Conventional cotton farmers use herbicides and pesticides, so avoid grabbing a toiletry bag off the department store shelf without checking what it’s made of.
Recommended Vegan Toiletry Bags
There’s a new vegan leather made from pineapple leaves called Piñatex. This leather-like material is made by a company called Ananas Anam, and is being used by several big brands including Hugo Boss. Pineapple leaves are a byproduct of existing agriculture so there’s less environmental impact.
Although sourcing pineapple leaves doesn’t adversely impact the environment, turning the leaves into leather requires using a petroleum-based resin, which isn’t biodegradable. Ananas Anam is working with a leading Dutch textile company to create a bio-resin alternative. Considering most synthetic vegan leather contains PVC, which releases dangerous dioxins, Piñatex is a safer and less damaging option.
If you’d like a toiletry bag made with this leather alternative, head over to Etsy for a Piñatex toiletry bag handmade in Belgium.
If you prefer the look and feel of cotton, Terra Thread offers a selection of vegan, fair trade, GOTS certified organic cotton pouches in various sizes.
Choosing an eco-friendly vegan toiletry bag says you care about people, too. Although leather is a popular option for toiletry bags, the leather industry exposes workers in developing countries to toxic chemicals, acids, and solvents that can cause serious, long-term harm.
2. Metal Razor
Get ready to shave like your grandparents! Old-school wet shaving tools are making a comeback because they’re affordable and they produce a cleaner, closer shave than anything you’ll get from a disposable or cartridge razor.
You can pick up one of these best-selling metal safety razors from Amazon in various styles, including different colors and varying handle lengths. Women who use safety razors to shave their legs prefer long handles and many people prefer short-handled safety razors for traveling. Note: If you’re traveling with a safety razor, the blades are not allowed in carry-on luggage.
While some brave men and women opt for a classic straight razor, most prefer a double-edged safety razor. Safety razors made from steel or chrome are built to last for generations. You could probably use your great grandfather’s razor and just replace the blade!
Still Not Ready to Switch to a Reusable Razor?
Recycling disposable razors isn’t profitable for waste management companies because the materials cost more to process than they’re worth. But if you’re not ready to try a reusable safety razor —or willing to endure the sharp learning curve (pun intended) to shave with a straight razor — you may be able to continue using disposable razors without tossing them into a landfill.
Qualified businesses and organizations that are willing to make a small effort can become collection points to gather disposable razors for recycling. In 2019, TerraCycle, a company that’s committed to recycling “un-recyclable” materials, launched a free razor return program with Gillette. You simply sign up online and provide your organization’s address. If your organization qualifies, you will receive a collection bin and TerraCycle will list the organization’s address on their map as a public drop-off point. When the bin is full, seal and send the bin to TerraCycle and request a new bin.
The program accepts cartridge heads and razors from all brands, including used blades from safety razors. Learn more about TerraCycle’s free Gillette Razor Recycling Program.
3. A Tin To Collect Used Blades for Recycling
Part of being environmentally responsible means using products that produce minimal waste, and that includes your used blades. You don’t need to shove used blades into the wall like your grandfather did. Metal safety razor replacement blades can now be recycled, making a safety razor as eco-friendly as a straight razor. But don’t toss them in your recycling bin; used blades are a safety hazard for recycling workers. Collect them in a secure metal tin, and when it’s full, take it to a drop-off location for TerraCycle’s Gillette Razor Recycling program, mentioned above. You can search for a drop-off location near you on TerraCycle’s interactive map.
4. Coconut Oil
Pre-shave oil is important for both men and women. Today’s disposable razor shaving culture has eliminated the use of pre-shave oil, but if you want a close shave without razor bumps, rashes, or nicks, you need pre-shave oil. Instead of buying small packages of chemical-based products down the shaving aisle, try coconut oil.
You can buy coconut oil in the grocery store in small jars, but if you already use coconut oil for other purposes like cooking, oil pulling, or conditioning your dog’s coat, get a giant tub from a bulk store like Costco.
To use coconut oil as a pre-shave oil, rub some in your hands (or heat it in a pan in the winter) and rub a generous amount on the area you’re going to shave just prior to applying shaving cream. The oil will provide extra glide for your razor.
If you’re allergic to coconuts, try jojoba oil.
5. Handmade Shaving Cream or Shaving Soap
Ditch the canned stuff and whip up a batch of homemade shaving cream. Canned shaving cream is expensive and the chemical ingredients dry out your skin. Making your own shaving cream gives you full control over the ingredients you absorb into your skin.
If you have soap making experience or you want to learn a new skill, follow these instructions to make your own shaving soap. If you’re not a soap maker or just want a quick option, DIY shaving cream is an easy project.
Alternatively, you can buy handmade shaving soap from a crafter on Etsy or Amazon and support a small business. Shaving soap may come in a puck, squeeze tube or bar. Here are some soaps to consider:
- Maison Lambert’s organic shaving soap puck with argon oil and jojoba oil in a cedarwood scent
- Dr. Bronner’s unscented shaving soap in a squeeze tube with fair trade and organic ingredients
- Beauty by Earth’s organic shaving soap bar with all natural ingredients, sulfate and paraben free
6. A Shaving Brush & Scuttle
If you’re new to shaving soap, it’s best to practice creating lather by using a scuttle. However, as time goes by you might switch to lathering directly on your body. Some men prefer to create lather directly on their face and some women prefer creating lather directly on their legs.
7. A Washcloth
Those disposable face wipes floating around in your toiletry bag may be handy, but they’re not eco-friendly. Replace them with a washcloth, soap, and water. You don’t really need fancy wipes to wash your face.
What’s in your eco-friendly shaving kit?
Do you have an eco-friendly shaving kit? What’s inside? Share your tips in the Earthling Forum or the comments below so we can all start finding eco-friendly replacements for products we can’t live without.
This article was originally published on December 17, 2019.