Ever considered trying a straight razor? Chris Reeves did and lived to send me an email about the experience. Chris is the visitor programs manager for the Seymour Marine Discovery Center in Santa Cruz, California. In his free time he gives talks about plastic pollution in the environment and will be holding a training for other folks to do the same. Chris says he’s also “a Gemini who likes long walks on the beach picking up trash and talking to kids about weird dead stuff.” He’s funny. Here’s the email he sent me.
I hope this is helpful for some of your male readers.
Last week I was getting down to my last disposable razor cartridge, I had a few bucks I could spend, and I decided to stop stewing about cutting out this one futile use of plastic from my life. It seems ridiculous to be using a material that will last in the environment forever simply to remove stuff from my face that is just going to grow back in a week. I’m lucky in that I don’t have to shave everyday, however my skin isn’t tough enough to survive it more than once every four days or so. I’m not the most masculine guy, but I do have a penchant for calculated risks like riding motorcycles and SCUBA diving, so I went with the most attractive choice: a straight razor.
I have only used it two times so far. The first time resulted in a shave that had the distinct appearance of having lost a death-match with a weed-whacker. In between shaves, I finally found the most useful tool for the job. It turns out that it isn’t a razor, or strop, or shave cream. It is a thorough treatise on shaving with a straight razor for beginners, which can be downloaded for free here: The Art of The Straight Razor Shave, A Basic Guide. Written by the very generous and informative Christopher Moss, the Guide provides complete guidance that will make the difference between a smooth comfortable shave, and something like a naked motorcycle crash.
Men have been shaving this way for a very long time, and it seems ridiculous to continue to spend money on lesser tools, to shave faster, at the expense of the environment. Realistically, a guy can expect to invest about $200 on a decent razor, strop, hone, and brush to get started. It seems like a lot, but considering the continual high expense of replaceable cartridges, it pays for itself fairly quickly. The best part is that you will only ever need one of these razors.
There are scores of blogs, videos, and online communities out there discussing straight razor shaving. My best suggestion for your male readers who are interested in this, is to simply do their research first. Understanding the basics ahead of time will help prevent them from being discouraged. If they really want a good example, they can always go get a professional shave at a barber to see the best way to do it. It is not as scary as everyone seems to think.
There is the added benefit of feeling truly independent here while providing others with the impression, however misguided, that you are kind of bad-ass. A friend of mine replied to my Facebook post about my first shaving attempt with this comment:
I like that the “un-manliest” man I know is using the “manliest” tool in the man arsenal.
After the first attempt, my wife thought I should tell people that I was scratched up by a kitten. I told her that I was perfectly comfortable explaining to folks that I got beat up trying use less plastic.
I continually ask myself about the value of tradeoffs when it comes to cutting back on plastic use. Would I pay a dollar or two extra for meat-counter meat that comes in paper if it meant helping the ocean? Yes. Would I be willing to spend a few minutes to wash and pack a set of silverware so that I am not left with plasticware as my only option? Yes. Would I invest $200 one time to save a little piece of the world and feel like a personal grooming ninja? Definitely.
Have you used a straight razor or would you be willing to try one? And my real question: Are there any females out there who use a straight razor to shave their legs? I’m just curious. I use a metal safety razor, and aside from not shaving at all, straight razor would be the truly zero waste alternative.