In 2019 I swapped out my regular razors for a traditional safety razor as part of my ongoing efforts to reduce my plastic usage and overall waste creation. Who knew an inanimate object such as this could teach so much.
I read that the manner of using safety razors was different, shorter strokes, and alternative angles. It’s fair to say that for the first, well countless times, of using it, I would end up with a nick or two or five. And those little nicks are damned well sore! Nonetheless, I was determined to learn the new razor’s ways and master the fine art of using it. And through this, I learned the lessons of the wise razor.
We rush a lot in this world. Even modern razors were created to prevent cutting while doing the job at a more efficient speed. If you want to use a safety razor and keep your legs intact, you have to slow down. ‘Oh, how inconvenient,’ I first sighed. I believed that time spent shaving was wasted; it was an act to be over and done with. However, reframing my thoughts, I began to look at this as time spent caring for myself instead, a chance to check in with my body and to quieten the mind, a form of meditation if you will.
Why do we not wish to spend time caring for ourselves? Why has it become embedded in our minds that self-care is self-indulgence and that this is bad- either as an over-indulgent, selfish act, or as a ‘new-age’ thing to raise eyebrows and roll eyes at? The phrases self-care and wellbeing have developed negative connotations due to the associations they’ve unfairly developed. I firmly believe in the words of Maya Angelou below.
Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfareThe ever-wise Maya Angelou
I chose to slow down to use my razor; I also had to use specific focus, precision, and care to complete the task well and prevent shredding my legs up like a julienne salad, and there is a wise metaphor in this for life. We need to have a specific focus and clarity towards our goals to reach them. It is best, however, to work toward goals with a calm and care that allows us to take in the full picture, to maintain awareness and empathy for those impacted by our actions while keeping an eye on the prize. We probably have all heard the tale of the hare and the tortoise, and it’s the tortoise who wins the race.
There is a time for speed and pace, but it is impossible to maintain chronic speed as standard without building an ever-growing risk of burnout, chronic stress, and illness. There is a lot to be said for adopting the safety razor pace of life. The slower pace maintained with razor-focused precision allows you to complete the planned task with enough energy both to hold consideration for the impacts your actions may have as well as enough energy left over for the unexpected.
It is worth considering what other planet-saving changes are ‘inconvenient’ to our current pace and routine of life yet are something far beyond convenient for the planet; they are critical in helping to turn around the environmental crisis. I highly recommend the safety razor as a great place to either start, or progress your journey in waste reduction and take some time to learn from its great wisdom.
In 2018 163 million Americans used disposable plastic razors – think what that must be as a global figure. That is all single-use plastic going straight into the earth where it will sit forever. As Darby Hoover, from the Natural Resources Defense Council, told HuffPost, ‘Each person is not making that much waste, but every person together adds up’ and the same applies for the reduction in waste. Every little action truly does count.
So buy yourself that safety razor, say ‘f%*k you’ to convenience and hello to helping the planet. Run a bath, lather up, and indulge in a little bit of love for that body and brain, which carries you around every day. The human body, created by none other than mother nature herself, is the most advanced piece of technology that exists on this planet and we should slow down and take time to treat it well.