She’s been spending the last year making one environmentally-friendly change to her life each day. She’s been blogging about her experience, writing a column in the National Post, and has a forthcoming book.
On a related note, the CBC opted not to specify that Ms. Farquharson was a journalist. For some inexplicable reason, that felt ingenuine (screw you, I’m using it).
Mach 3 or Plugged In?
I was shaving yesterday, and thinking about green choices. Staring at my razor blade, I wondered which was the greener option: an electric razor or one with disposable blades?
To compare, we need to think about all the factors that contribute to the manufacturing, shipping, usage and disposal of each technology.
For the average Gilette Mach 3, we need to consider:
- The environmental costs and energy usage of manufacturing the razor shafts, disposable razors and shaving cream. I use a shaving brush, too.
- The fuel consumed during shipping to stores.
- The waste generated in packaging.
- The water used during shaving. I probably shave 300 days out of the year, and use, maybe, 750 ml of water each time. If I shave for, say, 65 years, that’s 91 oil drums of water. Or, if you like, 15 hot tubs worth of water. Just on shaving. That’s depressing.
- The energy used to heat the water.
- Cost of disposal, including the fuel consumed to transport the discarded razors and shaving cream containers. More importantly, how long will the plastic bits hang around?
There’s a similar, though shorter list for an electric razor:
- Manufacturing the razor.
- Shipping it to the store.
- Electricity used in powering the razor over its lifetime.
- Disposal of the razor.
Which is the greener option? I have no idea. It’s an easy thought experiment, but practically speaking, a remarkably difficult thing to figure out. Environmental impact is measured in lots of ways: energy consumed, ecosystems impacted, pollution, and so forth. The first problem that I can see is that there’s no common currency for all of these factors.
Thinking about this stuff is, admittedly, one of those things that white people like to do. Still, I can imagine a good blog entitled “What’s Greener” that asks and answers these questions about small, everyday items like razors.
For the record, the greenest shaving option is to just let that mofo grow. The next greenest is to use an old school straight-razor (no ivory handle, thanks very much). I’ve never had the pleasure–are they difficult to use?
UPDATE: Elijah points out in the comments that there’s already a blog by Grist on this very subject. Handy.