Three Thousand Dollars!
I’ve been considering ways to reduce waste in my everyday activities (and, concurrently, trying to economise where possible). When I last bought shaving cream, I picked up a bottle of the Tesco generic brand rather than the kind I usually use (which, here in the Czech Republic, is rather expensive). The Tesco brand set me back about $1; however, it’s not a very satisfying shave. Also, the disposable razor refill I normally use is even more expensive here than in the states (about $14 USD per 8 heads). I have, apparently, rather course beard hair and can only get about four or five shaves out of one of these heads before it starts chafing my skin or skipping and cutting. So, I go through a lot of these.

As I was falling asleep last night, I considered this. I’ve been shaving now for some years. How many razor heads and bottles of shaving cream have I used in that time? Many. Multiply that times all the men who shave using the same system; how much waste is that! On the back of the razor package there is even a pathetic little icon with a man tossing bits into a rubbish bin. This morning, I went a step further; how much have all those bottles of shaving cream and razor refills cost? With some estimating and averaging, I’ve come up with a figure around $3000 USD. When one derives a number (for anything) that is more than many people in the world make in a lifetime, it ought to call for some pause.

I have used these things because I was largely unaware of other options. I was bombarded with advertising stating that The best a man can get is basically the only thing a man can get if he wants a clean shave and wants women to walk up and stroke his face suggestively. There are, of course, other options. Men have shaved for all recorded history without paying such significant sums. I can reduce cost and waste hundreds of times by using some of the older, tried and true, methods. Of course, I’d have to learn to use them properly and it might not be as convenient. But how often do I need to shave in three minutes rather than five and a half?

It makes me wonder, to an even greater extent, what other waste (both in physical and financial resources) I regularly produce. Toiletries are obvious. I go through toothbrushes like nobody’s business; but, of course, I just wear out the head. Does someone make a toothbrush with a replaceable head? When I was in the Netherlands, I was given a bottle of “shower gel.” It was convenient; I bought several bottles and used them for the time I was there. However, one day it struck me: this stuff is expensive; it lasts for a relatively short time; every time I finish a bottle it goes back to the recycling facility to go through a whole energy-wasting process of re-use (or, many go to the landfill). On the other hand, a bar of soap comes in a paper wrapper (or some stores carry them unwrapped); is cheap; and it lasts for some time. However, according to the shower gel ads you won’t really be clean and manly unless you use our shower gel. . .which we’ve cleverly named after a tool that sounds all manly as well. Axe for it at your local retailer.

If you take a step back from the consumer everything mindset and look at it objectively, it’s really rather sad.