Fourteen years ago, I purchased a stainless steel safety razor, and I consider it one of the best investments I’ve ever made. Granted, I am somewhat of a minimalist so my investments are few, but purchasing a reusable razor that allowed me to replace only the blades has saved me a lot of money and kept me from throwing away hundreds of disposable razors while simply recycling the blades.
The safety razor I use was invented in 1901, at the turn of the last century, by a man named King Gillette. Perhaps you’ve heard of his company.
Well, Gillette pioneered the replaceable and disposable blade, since up to that point, sharpening the blades was an arduous task and the metal was too expensive to be disposed of. A hundred years later, the Gillette company has invested millions of dollars into a marvel of engineering featuring precision-placed blades, with tips thinner than visible light that are spot-welded more than automobiles for a product designed to be disposed of after fifteen uses. The industry has come a long way.
The Gillette Company did not release the first dual blade razor until 1972, less than fifty years ago. Bic was already selling disposable plastic pens and disposable plastic lighters, and they started offering disposable plastic razors in 1975. Last year, more than 1.2 billion dollars’ worth of disposable razors were sold in the U.S. alone.
In 1990, the Environmental Protection Agency, which was founded five years before the release of the disposable plastic razor, estimated that the U.S. produced 2 billion disposable plastic razors and blades a year. While it would probably be shocking to know how many disposable plastic razors are released into the environment thirty years later, the EPA says that it does not track the impact of disposable razors on the environment and has no updates on the numbers. As a 34 billion dollar industry, apparently, they are too big to be flawed.
It’s a wonderful thing that capitalism has proven itself a worthwhile innovation, as Gillette has employed a great many people and empowered a great many initiatives in the engineering of shaving excellence while also entertain the masses though their sponsorship of a great many events. The problem is that the plastic used to make those disposable razors was made from fossil fuels that took millions of years…