Whether you’re giving your face a quick shave or smoothing out your legs, chances are you’ve used a razor blade to get the job done.
But once we’re finished with the shave, some often give a second thought to how we dispose of our razors.
Of course, the primary issue is that razor blades aren’t exactly the most disposable item. If you toss the razor into a recycling bin without any protection, the sharp edges of the blade can injure recycling workers.
But, did you know you can recycle your used razor blades in a safe and sustainable way? Don’t just toss the disposable razor or blade cartridge in the trash bin after you finish a shave. It’s time to get more eco-friendly.
How to Recycle Razor Blades
Regardless of whether you prefer to shave with disposable razors or a reusable cartridge system, you can still recycle your used blades. Here are three ways you can safely recycle razor blades quickly and effectively.
Option 1: Purchase a Razor Blade Bank
A razor blade bank is a metal container that can safely store discarded blades. There are high-end blade banks online that are available for a few dollars each. You can even purchase a “blade disposal unit.”
If you’re short on time but want to want to live more sustainably, purchasing a razor blade bank is an easy way to take a daily step toward reducing waste. Once the container is filled with razors, you can bring it to your local recycling center.
Additionally, certain pharmacies and drug stores have sharps containers they’ll gladly give you for free. After the safe is filled with used blades, duct tape the container shut and drop it off at the pharmacy or drugstore.
Option 2: Make a DIY Razor Blade Bank
If you enjoy DIY projects and want to save money, you can make your own blade bank. Here’s a quick step-by-step process:
1. Check Around Your Home for Containers to Upcycle
First, see if you have a container in your home that could double as a blade bank. Any tin should work as a bank. You can clean a tin of breath mints, for example. If you don’t already have a container that could work, find a metal can and cut a hole in the top of it. On Badger & Blade, a shaving forum, there is a thread with detailed instructions on how to make a bank for under 50 cents.
2. Places the Blades in the Bank
Then, place used safety razor blades in a blade bank. Remember to clean them after shaving and separate plastic pieces from the metal. Only the steel itself is guaranteed to be recyclable.
To protect yourself, consider buying some worker gloves you can wear while handling the blades. Ideally, the blades you insert won’t be able to fall out of the can.
To test how effective the container is, try holding it above the trash with the slit facing down. Give it a few shakes and see if any of the blades fall into the garbage.
3. Secure the Blades to Make Sure the Bank is Safe
Finally, if you want to be extra considerate of the recycling workers’ safety, you can try to find a way to cover the opening before you recycle the blade bank. For example, you can apply duct tape or something similar to your DIY bank.
The only problem with this approach is that tape isn’t necessarily recyclable. Workers might need to spend time removing the pieces of tape.
Option 3: Find a Collection Program for Safety Razors
Many municipalities across the United States operate collection programs designed to help consumers recycle hard-to-recycle materials, including safety razors. Depending upon where you live, some places that may collect hard-to-recycle materials include:
- fire stations
- police stations
- community centers
There are other programs that are exclusively dedicated to making it easy to recycle your razors. For example, TerraCycle has partnered with leading brands like Gillette and Venus to launch a recycling program. You can ship all types of blades and razors to them, including disposable razors, high-end double-edge razor blades, plastic cartridge units and even packaging.
When you join the recycling program, TerraCycle will give you a tracking label to download, allowing you to send your used blades and razors through your preferred mail carrier. You can also sign up to serve as a public drop-off point, so other people can drop off their blades and razors at your location. Local recycling solutions will get free shipping to TerraCycle.
According to the company, the recycled shaving products are broken down and separated by material. Plastic materials are used to create picnic tables and park benches, while the metal materials from blades are smelted and converted into new alloys.
Shave the World: Why It’s Important to Recycle Safety Razors
It’s a bit of work to go through the process of recycling razor blades, but the environmental impact is hard to deny. In 1990, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that every year people in the U.S. threw away two billion razors and blades that could be recycled. Today, as electric razor brands, reusable and disposable options become more prevalent in the safety razor market, that waste has likely increased over time.
Needless to say, that’s not a statistic that any environmentally-conscious person would want to be a part of. Much like an actual bank, every blade and razor you save can add up to make a positive difference in the world.
So, next time you finish shaving, don’t just throw it away. Instead, consider buying or making a razor blade bank to make it safer and more sustainable to dispose of razor blades.
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