Q&A.; The Close Shave

Q. Greetings Treehugger. I was hoping that you could help me out with a concern of mine. I’m a relatively hairful man who requires a rather frequent shaving schedule so as not to overly irritate my girlfriend's sensitive skin. I have become more and more concerned about my impacts on this Earth of ours and was hoping that you could help me find the most eco-friendly way of shaving. Any advice you could offer will be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much for your time. Mark F.A. Mark, it’s an issue I confront, whenever I find myself in front of the mirror all stubbleful. Stuck between the devil and deep blue sea. Don’t want to use an electric razor and add to greenhouse gas emissions but nor use chemical foams and disposable blade razors either. Twice though, I thought I had found the answer. First, was aeons ago, when I saw an image of Ross Lovegrove’s never-go-blunt ceramic razor (which we noted in our Top Five: Personal Care post) but, alas, has never been commercialised for bathroom use. Then I got excited about a wind-up razor that Real Goods were selling. Sounded just perfect. But they advised me they’d run out and had little chance of ever getting them again. Seems you can still trace such things, if you are prepared to scour the web. (the pic above shows the Brevete Monaco model, but in this case it’s motor has worn out!) Check out a cute selection of other non-electrical razors at Simply Switch On!, the museum of small electric appliances.

So, that pretty much left me considering the classic Straight razor, more ominously known as a ‘cut throat’. Mother Earth News have a lovely piece on these, that even includes detailed instructions and quirky illustrations on how to get a baby smooth shave that lasts the whole day through, while keeping your throat intact! I suspect this is your best bet, Mark. Combine one with a natural ingredient based shave cream, say something of the Tom’s Of Maine ilk, and your girlfriend and your planet will both thank you.

For those mere mortals choosing not to embrace a Straight razor, might I suggest simple eco-steps like: using a refillable blade razor, shaving less (maybe try a beard!) and/or just using water as your lubricant.

And if you really find yourself stuck, then use whatever razor works to keep your relationship cuddly and continuing. Sweat the small stuff less, in this one instance. Insulating your home, catching more public transport, eating one less meat meal a week, installing compact fluoro lights, avoiding that plasma TV purchase, will all help our little blue/green ball much more than whatever shaving regime we guys (and girls) opt for.

PS. I once posed this very dilemma to some uni students, as an ecodesign problem solving exercise. One solution offered, was for guys to ‘wax’ their stubble away. Maybe it was the look of horror on the faces of male students, that stopped the other half from deciding such an idea would meet with big commercial success!