The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

August 22, 2007

Plastic-Free Shaving with a Metal Safety Razor

p1030057Do I look like an antique to you? I must have been twelve or thirteen years old the first time I shaved my legs. I used my dad’s safety razor, just like the one in the picture. But times have changed, and you can’t buy these at the drugstore anymore. I got this one for ten dollars at a local antique store, a great way to find out how they did things in the good old pre-plastic days.  But you can also buy them new from Life Without Plastic, and they’ll ship without plastic packaging.

By the way, if you purchase via any of the links on this page, My Plastic-Free Life earns a small commission.  Thanks for your help!

I’ve been using this razor for nearly one month. In fact, I’ve been using the same blade the whole time too. At this rate, the box of 100 safety razor blades that I bought from eBay could last me 8 years! Of course, I don’t shave every day, so your mileage may vary. But just think of all the plastic cartridges and packaging that I am not throwing away.

Here’s a link to find plastic-free razor blades from eBay.  Not all of the listings are plastic-free, so be careful while searching.  The ones I found come individually wrapped in paper in a small cardboard box.

I waited a month before reporting on this razor because I wanted to make sure I could really use it without hurting myself. It does take a bit of getting used to if you’ve been shaving with light-weight plastic razors. It’s kinda heavy. But now that I’ve been using it for a while, I actually prefer the way it works to my Venus razor. I think it’s not the number of blades that are important but the closeness, and this baby shaves close and smooth. I’m talking legs, armpits, the works.

Well, maybe not exactly the works. But we won’t go there.

So, why am I not using the Preserve recycled plastic razor? Honestly, I think the Preserve razor is a bit misguided. Only the handle is made from recycled plastic and is recyclable. How often do you get rid of a razor handle? The plastic cartridges still have to be thrown away.

As for my old Venus razor, I’m keeping it and a few of the cartridges (I gave away most of the cartridges on Freecycle) for the little bit of traveling I do. I don’t imagine I’d get very far trying to bring double-edged razor blades on a plane.

This has been Part 1 of Plastic-free Shaving. I’ll post Part 2 when I figure out the best shave soap to use. I still have half a can of shave gel left. After that’s gone, I’ll be experimenting with various plastic-free options, and I’ll let you know which works best for me.

You might also enjoy...


Buy secondhand on eBay

I only post ads for products I use myself. Your support helps to fund my plastic-free mission.

Leave a Reply

36 Comment threads
13 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
20 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

I’ve been using a metal razor for about 2 years now and have been collecting the used blades in an old tea tin. Any ideas on how to recycle them? Thanks!


My shave is AWESOME and replacement blades are only $0.15 each!


Check out this awesome effort started by sailors from Berkeley, CA to “SHAVE the World from Plastic”

Ge Duif

Metal razors and their blades are still obtainable in Europe. Try (or. a German based quality retailer, which has lots of other great high quality stuff.


I found my grandfather’s old safety razor, but now I must find blades. Trying to find them locally (the internet says Walgreens & target carries them) I discovered that many are Teflon coated. So now the chore is to find them packaged without plastic, without Teflon. Maybe most are coated now??


You can get blades for $.15 each on


I am enjoying my bronze colored razor and safety blades, after getting a tip from “plasticfree.” Walgreens was swimming in plastic for women’s razors. We’re talking indestructible, war-time plastic. They don’t mess around! My only lament is that the razor I ordered from came packaged with peanuts! Agh! Oh well. I’ll make a request for different packaging material next time.
Now, it’s just the Maytag refrigerator sitting in my kitchen that needs to be dumped because the one inch wire on heater defroster can’t be replaced. They don’t make the part anymore! :>(


I was recently visiting a friend in Europe and was running off to shower when I noticed her staring in disbelief at my razor. “You still shave?” she said, as if I had walked out of the stone age. Apparently, there is an alternative to shaving and waxing, called epilating. So, since I’m on a tight student budget, I decided to fork out the amount I spend yearly on razor heads and get one of theses things. Yea, it’s not as painless as shaving, though close to waxing, and the hair grows back much slower. I’m to where I can… Read more »


We used to have a metal razor in the house (I think it’s my dad’s). Now that I think about it, I don’t know where it is (must have been disposed of already). If only I’ve known, I should have kept it at a safe place. I can’t find that type of razor anywhere here anymore and I’m not sure if I want to buy one online.


Very interesting. I have bony knees, and they’re hard enough to shave with a disposable razor, so I don’t know if I’m willing to try a safety razor. I still have disposable cartridges left; I’ve been delaying the decision until I get low. . . I did switch to shaving soap instead of shaving cream about four years ago; my favorite soap is from Thistle Ridge Soap Company. It’s a small mom-and-pop company that sells both online and at craft festivals. I buy from them when they’re in Atlanta or North Georgia, so I’ve never purchased online. But both my… Read more »

Beach babe

I cldnt find the post about a guy using the old cut throat blade. Any way, what a surprise- the Detainees at the juvinile detention centre where I work- have asked permission to re- use the same razors to reduce waste!!?? This is a Very Thorny issue- as razors are kept Out of their rooms and issued each day – as a Safety Precaution. Without a New razor Each day- that wld save on 90 razors a week! And multiply that by 7.. Safety must remain first but Points to them for thinking- now we just have to convince them… Read more »

Beth Terry

What do you do with the blade when it gets dull? Can you get it sharpened? Do you throw it out? Is it recyclable?

Beach babe

A blade kept in olive oil wont rust.


Sharpening probably isn’t advisable for the double edged or feather blades, since they’re made from a very hard steel that is designed to hold an edge for a long time. For this reason you can milk them for quite a while, but it’s pretty tough to put an edge back on them. You can however recycle them. Collect them in a blade safe like this aluminum one ( and when it’s full, you can throw the whole thing in the recycling bin.

Beth Terry

The safe on that page looks like plastic. Are you sure it’s aluminum? Wondering how they could be recycled. Can’t put them in recycle bin. Dangerous for workers. Would have to take them to a metal recycler, I’m guessing. We have been collecting ours, but don’t have many because they do last a long time.


beth, the link karen provided is for what is known as a sharps box, which i thought they only made for needles, like for diabetics. the box keeps the sharp objects away from hands until the piece is melted, and it is far enough away from people that no one is touching it anymore anyway. that is the point of a sharps box (it takes away the need for you to go to a metal recycling plant yourself). you collect the blades in there, where they stay safely hidden away while you recycle them normally until nothing is sharp anymore.… Read more »

Beth Terry

Hi, Dora. I’m just wondering where I would take it. I know it is not allowed in our recycle bin. Would have to find out if there is a metal recycler in my area that would accept razor blades.


so, in the interest of full disclosure, i will say that my experience with sharps boxes is thus far limited to needles for diabetics and recycling those. having said that, what the sharps box does is turn the question for your recycler from “do you recycle razor blades” to “do you recycle steel?” this is because there is no longer a cutting hazard, which is the only thing that distinguishes a feather blade from any other piece of steel. and lots of recycling plants recycle steel because they make a fair bit of money on it. having lived many places,… Read more »


beth, i was recently looking up the state law on this since it’s becoming time to recycle my sharp items for the first time since moving to cali. where i lived before, as i mentioned, you can just put it in a sharps container and put that container in the recycling bin, after labelling it correctly. apparently, in california, this practice was stopped in 2008. now, in california, you have to dispose of it at specific centers. mine is, thankfully, quite close to me. you can find your local sharps recycler by going to and selecting your county. from there,… Read more »


What a great endeavor. Thank you for your commitment to the cause and thank you for the shout out about We really appreciate it.

Melissa Brown

Yeah! Life without plastic is filling another void & has started selling safety razors! That’s on my next list of things to try! But which one???!

Amanda R.

I bought a metal safety razor and box of blades last week – I love the razor, and think it’s one of the closest shaves I’ve had! (though it turns out I have bony shins, which I’ll have to be a bit more careful with…) But I was frustrated that the razor – from – came in a plastic bag inside its box, then in a bigger box of styrofoam peanuts; the blades – from one of the sellers that comes up via the link above – came in a padded (bubblewrap) envelope. :( I’ve written to both vendors… Read more »


Hi! I work at and am also passionate about environmental issues. Thank you for your business! Just wanted to let you know that although we certainly have room for improvement as far as packaging is concerned, we only use biodegradable rice peanuts when shipping. That was the first environmental initiative the owner implemented when taking over the business from her father, its originator. Her husband loves to pop a packing peanut in his mouth and eat it when he is giving someone a tour of the warehouse.

Thanks for fighting the good fight.

Beth Terry

LOL. My cats attack the corn-based packing peanuts and will gobble them up if I’m not careful. I tried one once just to see what would happen. It melted in my mouth instantly. But I don’t recommend this. We don’t know what other additives might be mixed in with the corn or rice, do we? :-)


Oh thank you! I have been wondering how to replace my plastic razors, I have ordered a metal safety razor today. Thanks for solving a problem for me!

Jessica | Cloth Diapering Mama

I think there is one of these at my grandmother’s house that use to be my grandfather’s….I’m grabbing it if I see it!


I know this is a super old post, but I had to share! I haven’t made the switch from my plastic razor set yet, but I have been using olive oil to shave for many months now! it works better than any soap or gel I’ve used. And I like my silky legs. It’s a great moisturizer. it does clog up the razor a bit…just have to rinse it out a couple of times. (I buy EVOO in glass bottles and refill them at our co-cop.)


I’m actually considering a straight razor, as I find the idea of having to buy the double edged blades inconvenient and I have used the reusable venus for years and yet have never thrown out any of the dull heads because of my guilty conscience.

Pat Winter

I have found a great way to get rid of unwanted hair and never have to worry about cutting myself, something I can do without any effort, and not have plastic and not be expensive. I go to the local hardware and purchase one sheet of finest wet/dry sandpaper. It will last a very long time so don’t bother with any more than one sheet. I cut the sheet into four strips, you now have four “razors”, and even these do not need to be disposed of after one use, more like 10. Wrap the sandpaper around three fingers (index,… Read more »

Andy Crump

My boyfriend ordered a Safety Razor from and loves it!!

I may just give it a try on my legs! Thanks for the blog post!


Sadly, I received a box full of styrofoam peanuts along with my razor from Classic Shaving – even after requesting no plastic or styrofoam in the comment box.

Beth Terry

Hi Amanda. There actually is an update here:



How about an update… it’s been a while since you originally posted this, and I’m thinking of converting. Still using it? Tips and tricks?

Thanks! Amanda


I FINALLY convinced my friend to get rid of his unibrow last week and he mentioned that when he was growing up he used to watch his Mom and sister make the sugar wax to wax their legs…And his friend told me that as kids they used to eat it! :)

Boy in the Bands (Scott Wells)

I found your blog search for something else, but I’m a cloth bag, fountain pen and safety razor user. (More for the cost savings and aesthetics than the plastic savings, though.)

I blogged at length about converting to a safety razor last year, and might have some details that would help your readers. Some good comments too.

Start here: “Revisiting my shaving posts


Thanks for the mention :)

I am one of those guys who sometimes forgets to shave for a week or more. The old fashioned safety razor is actually better for an ‘almost a beard’ face. Plastic multi-blades get irrevocably clogged and I used to go through two or more to finish one shave. With a safety razor, you carefully take the blade out, rinse and you’re good to go again.

Beth Terry

Hi Heather. Does sugaring hurt as much as waxing? And can you use it for underarms?

It seems like a better solution than a razor for anyone who doesn’t mind a little pain. But I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to waxing. Please let me know about the pain factor.

heather t

Here’s another option – sugaring. Works like waxing, but all-natural ingredients. I just found this recipe at in the Mind and Body section. I had to edit the detailed instructions because Blogger wouldn’t take that long of a comment. bleh. *** 1 cup sugar Juice from half a lemon 1/4 cup honey A drizzle of Molasses if you have any Cornstarch (to powder with) A spreader of some sort Cotton fabric strips Mix lemon, sugar, and honey in a bowl. Microwave on high for about 2-3 minutes, until it bubbles into a smooth consistency. Or simmer over low heat… Read more »

Beth Terry

Hi Debra. Are the blades from the hardware store double-edged? The only razor blades I found in a hardware store had one sharp edge and didn’t have the hole in the middle for attaching to the razor. And the blades I bought for my razor are kind of thin. Are you sure that they are the same kind?

Also, are they packaged in plastic? The double-edged blades I found at the drugstore came in a plastic blister pack.

Beth Terry

Heather, I agree. That’s why I married him. (Oh, I’m not supposed to reveal his identity.)

He’s also the smartest person I’ve ever met.

As for conditioner or body lotion, I don’t have a solution yet. I think that shave soap is different from regular soap. It’s what people shaved with back in the day, with a brush and a cup.


You know you can find those same blades in any good hardware store.. and they are still called safety razor blades there. (they are for the razor scrapers..).

heather t

terrible person is funny.

are you using hair conditioner or body lotion? either one will probably make a great shaving lotion. soap tends to dry my skin out.

terrible person

Also, I think Beth prefers guys to shave their faces. And what about LDS missionaries? And bicyclists and swimmers who need to shave parts of their bodies? Not to mention backup dancers for Madonna? I mean, depilatories are even scarier environmentally, and wax is probably made from petroleum (and cf. “The 40-year Old Virgin”.) And lasers use energy. I think human-powered razors are probably the best. As the Clash sang: “Should I shave or should I grow now?If I shave there will be stubbleIf I grow there will be doubleSo you’ve got to let me knowShould I shave or should… Read more »

Beth Terry

Yeah, I should have said something about that. It IS an option, and a good one. I went that route back in the early 90’s, but you know, I just really like having smooth legs. It feels good. Armpits… I’ll admit that’s more of a societal-pressure thing. It doesn’t actually bother me when there’s hair there. But when my legs are smooth, I just feel so much better.

Stretch Mark Mama

Oooooorrrr….you can just pretend you’re European and stop shaving altogether. That works for me. :)

I feel a t-shirt slogan coming…Save the world; shave no more!


Hey now, busting a myth here… Most Europeans actually do shave. It depends on the culture, and of course personal preference. Europe is more geographically diverse than the USA, hence more variation.