Zero Waste Shaving: My Experience With a Safety Razor

Zero Waste Shaving

I’m not sure about you, but receiving zero waste gifts gets me super excited. Like, literally I act as if someone gave me $1000+ when I get zero waste gifts. That’s probably because, in a way, they are. Zero waste products are built to last after all, and half the time they do wind up saving you money. A huge example of that is when I switched over to reusable cloth pads (on average, that saves me at least $8 a month – which adds up to $3,840 a year). That aside, you can only guess how happy I was when one of my gifts was a safety razor: Now I could finally try out zero waste shaving! Disposable razors add up too: Depending on the brand and type, a pack can cost anywhere from $2 to $10 (or maybe even more!). Not to mention they take a serious toll on the environment once you’re done using them (the EPA estimates 2 billion razors are thrown away each year!). Not sure about what your state laws are, but in NYC, disposable razor blades cannot be recycled. In fact, they encourage you to dump disposable razor blades in the trash. Thankfully, I won’t be contributing to that waste cycle anymore. From now on, I’ll be zero waste shaving! Here’s my experience (so far) with a reusable safety razor.

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My safety razor:

zero waste shaving

My best friend (I’ve known her since 2nd grade, no joke) got me this beautiful safety razor for my birthday. She knew I wanted to try zero waste shaving so it made the perfect gift. It’s a long handle double edge safety razor. She even got me replacement blades for when the current blade gets too dull. Here are a few quick facts about this kind of razor:

  • It was made in Solingen, Germany by Merkur (they’ve created high quality razors for decades!).
  • It’s a chrome plated safety razor (so it’s really nice and shiny!).
  • It’s great for both men and women (ahem, I attest to the latter).
  • It costs around $35 (not including tax).

Benefits of switching to a safety razor:

Want to know the benefits of making the switch to zero waste shaving? You got it:

  • The long handle offers superior control, comfort and grip.
  • The blades are easy to replace (even for newbies like me) and made from stainless steel.
  • I’ve never cut myself using it (just in case you were wondering).
  • I get an even closer, smoother shave (much better than the disposables give!).
  • Safety razors work on all hair types.
  • It’s an eco-friendly solution to disposable razors!

How I put the blade in:

zero waste shaving

Before I was able to use my razor, I had to put the blade in. I had no clue how to do this, and if you’ve never used a razor before, you might not either. I figured it would be helpful to explain how I figured it out (it was easy once I understood it!). Keep in mind every safety razor is different, so if you have a different safety razor, these directions might not work for you. That said, here’s how I put the blade into my long handle double edge safety razor:

  1. Unscrew the handle. This is the first, most important step. 
  2. There’s two pieces to the head that will come off: You’re going to put the blade between them, then screw them back on. Handle the blade with care (it’s the one in the middle in the picture above)!
  3. Make sure the shiny dome-shaped part remains on top and the part with the jagged edges (and 3 holes) stays on the bottom (they should be in the order I’ve aligned them in the picture above). You want the jagged edges to be facing downward too, not upward. This will allow for an easy, smooth shave.

Please note that not all safety razors are created equal. Yours may require a different kind of assembly than mine. There are some with one piece, two piece, or even three piece designs. Here’s how to find out which type of safety razor you own and how to insert the blade. 


How I care for my razor:

zero waste shaving

Caring for my razor is super important: I want it to last me! If you have a razor too, or are planning on getting one, here are some simple tips that will help you keep it in tip top shape:

  • Don’t leave water on a blade after shaving. This will cause the blade to go dull faster.
  • To keep your blade sharp take the razor apart after each use, wipe it down and let it air dry. Reassemble when it’s completely dry and ready to be reused.
  • Try to leave it somewhere in the bathroom it won’t get constantly wet: I like to leave it in my beauty bag, which sits right on top of the toilet. If you like to leave it in the shower, put it somewhere water cannot splash on it (this will help keep the razor sharp for longer).
  • Handle the razor with care: You don’t have to go extra slow while shaving or anything (unless you want to), but be sure you don’t drop it or misplace it. 
  • Preferably, don’t let anyone else use it. While sharing is nice, this shared use will wear out the blade even quicker.

How I use my safety razor:
Here comes the big question: How do you actually use a safety razor for zero waste shaving? Simple: Like any other razor! Once the whole thing is assembled, there’s not much of a difference. You won’t lose a limb or have to be taken to the hospital for blood loss, I assure you. In fact, you’ll probably notice an even nicer, closer shave than before (I sure did!)

  • I just use my usual body soap bar with my safety razor. I make sure to really lather up my legs (and under arms) with it before shaving. You could also try getting a shave bar soap (the Tiny Yellow Bungalow sells a vegan, organic, palm oil free one), aloe vera gel, or coconut oil too. 
  • I shave in the shower: I find the streams of water naturally clear the razor of hair as I shave, so the razor never clogs. If you prefer to shave outside of the shower, prepare to constantly clean off your blade, as it will probably be more likely to clog up. When I do shave outside the shower, I find having a cup of warm water beside me helps a lot. I love using aloe vera or just my regular soap, to shave outside the shower. I make sure to lather up to the soap really good before spreading it on my legs. Then I start shaving! Just have to make sure I wash/wipe my legs off extra good afterwards to get all the soap (or aloe vera) off.
  • I hold the razor at a 30 degree angle and use short strokes. I don’t add a lot of pressure either: I just glide it over my skin and let the razor do the talking.
  • For more ahem, private areas, safety razors work great too. Just express the same usual caution you always do around those areas and you will be fine. 
  • Once I’m done shaving, I make sure to wash off the razor, wipe it down with a towel, take apart the parts, and let them air dry. When it’s completely dry, I reassemble it and store it in my beauty bag which is in my bathroom (right on top of my toilet). Since my toilet is right next to the shower, it’s super easy to just reach into my beauty bag, grab my razor, and repeat the cycle. Come to mention it, a lot of zero waste things are rather cyclical. 

What to do with old blades:

You might be wondering “but what happens when the razor blade does get dull?” – Have no fear. This is a part of zero waste shaving. Thankfully, there’s a simple solution.

  • I haven’t had to swap out a blade yet (I’ve only had the razor for a month!), but when I do, I’m not going to just toss it out. I plan to recycle them, but I’m not going to simply dump them into my recycling bin. Unless your town or city clearly says they collect scrap metal through curbside recycling programs, you shouldn’t either. Look up your city’s recycling guidelines to see how they handle scrap metal first, or call Waste Management. I was able to find something near me just by typing “scrap metal collection NYC” (anyone ever heard of Donjon Recycling? They accept all sorts of metals and have two locations – one in Staten Island, one in Dover New Jersey). Better yet, I think Donjon Recycling will even pay for scrap metal too! Make sure to check and see if your local scrap metal collection will – it might be an eco-friendly way to earn a quick buck!

  • More than likely, I’m just going to collect all my used blades in a container (an empty soup can, used pill bottle, or tin will do nicely). Once it’s full, I’m going to look into dropping it off at a local scrap metal collection site for recycling. If you don’t have a scrap metal collection site near you, consider mailing the old blades to Albatross Shave Shop in California. From what I hear, they’ll accept literally any kind of steel blades, no matter the brand, and recycle them. Sweet!

Zero Waste Safety Razor

Was this post helpful to you? Have you tried zero waste shaving? 

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By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.


  1. Oh My God! So much information about razors. This double edge safety razor from the Tiny Yellow Bungalow seems nice. I must give it a try. By reading your post I agree to swathing the safety razor. Thank you for this added information.

  2. So happy to help! 🙂 I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Have you decided to make the switch to a safety razor yet? I'm loving mine and haven't even needed to replace the blade yet! 😀

  3. My first experience shaving was at fifteen years old. In those days – my decision of razor was plastic, the dispensable kind found in neighborhood sedate stores. It wasn't a charming knowledge. It took a long time of trying different things with various kinds of razors and hours of training until the point that I got the hang of a definitive method to shave your face. If you want to know more, Please check out here:

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  5. I love not only the idea of getting greener, but also the additional skill you’ve no doubt developed using your new safety razor. This, to me, is the make of a great product — it’s beautiful, simple, and it increased your skill by eliminating the crutches of an overly-complicated (and fossil-fuel subsidized) product. If you ever decide to take it a step further — eliminating even the waste associated with manufacturing, transport and recycling those disposable blades — try the switch to a straight razor. I started in 2003 with an average DOVO razor from and haven’t replaced anything but soap since then. (Though, I admit my brush is getting pretty shabby.) If you get a chance sometime, give it a try. Written with the same excitement and eloquence of your other work, I’d love to read about your experience!

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