I recently needed to replace two small products in the bathroom, my toothbrush and razor. Both small changes, but when the opportunities present themselves, I’m continually trying to make better choices. Sometimes these small changes seem inconsequential, especially compared to the work and research required. However, through other projects I have learned that small changes can make a big difference. As I work my way around the house and through the to-do list, these changes will add up.
The first change I made was my toothbrush. Instead of buying the same model made of plastic I sought a non-plastic alternative. Plenty of options exist, but the balance of cost against the best product was the focus of my search. Eventually I settled on a pack of four from Brush with Bamboo. Their toothbrushes have a bamboo handle (no fear of splinters) and bristles mostly made of castor oil. All of the packaging is recyclable using as little plastic as possible. Even the shipping envelope was padded with shredded paper, not plastic bubbles.
At $5 per brush they are a bit more expensive than what is available at the store. However, they offer free shipping within the U.S. Cheaper bands exist, but the savings was not significant and they used traditional plastic packaging.
After using the brush for a few weeks I haven’t noticed a significant difference from a conventional brush. It doesn’t taste like wood or absorb water as it stands in the holder. The head of the brush is a little larger, which does create a little extra work to reach the back, but only because I still have wisdom teeth. I doubt I will have any unwanted surprises at the dentist in a few months.
In order to eliminate a second source of plastic the other change I made was switching from disposable razors to a metal safety razor. This was a little more intimidating than a toothbrush (a blade vs. a stick). I normally use an electric razor and only use a triple blade razor every now and then, or to reach a few spots the electric razor struggles with.
I settled on a Merkur 33C Safety Razor from West Coast Shaving for $30 and a pack of ten blades for $6.25. The razor is entirely metal, as are the blades, making them entirely recyclable. The total cost adds up to not much more than a box of disposables from Costco.
The first shave was a little nerve racking. Compared to a triple blade disposable, the safety razor blades are significantly sharper and less flexible. The first few go’s were slower, but that was due more to my nerves than anything. As I have become accustomed to handling it, the easier and quicker it has become. I haven’t nicked or cut myself, and afterwards my skin actually stings less than a disposable razor (which makes me wonder what is really in those cooling strips). However, at this point I haven’t shaved enough to know if the blades will last at least as long as the disposable blades.
All in all, for my uses, a disposable three blade razor presents no real advantage. As far as I can see, this is the last razor I will buy as long as they keep making the blades.
It makes me wonder why safety razors went away, but my best guess centers around a mixture of convenience, cheap materials, and mostly a lot of marketing. While one of these razors was not lying around in an old medicine cabinet in my house, there are probably a lot still out there from previous generations waiting to be found and used again.
Reducing plastic usage and consumption is one of my goals, though it doesn’t need to happen all at once. Both changes may appear small at first, but like others they will add up and make a difference.