The environment may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to hair removal, but various methods of hair removal have a negative impact on the environment. For those concerned about the environmental impact of their activities, shaving is one of the aspects with an underestimated environmental footprint. Below, we outline how different hair removal options affect the environment and why you should consider laser hair removal.
#1 Plastic waste
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), about two billion disposable razor blades are thrown away every year in the U.S. alone. Interestingly, this figure comes from an EPA handbook from 1990, so the number is certainly higher today. A more recent survey by Fortune Business Insights reports that the global market for disposable razor blades was worth $3.39 billion in 2019 and could reach $4.31 billion by 2027. Unfortunately, most of these end up in landfills or in the oceans, where their metal and plastic content damages the environment.
Disposable razors also harm the environment in other ways. The manufacturing process creates waste and releases more plastic pollution into the environment. Their packaging also requires more plastic, adding to the negative impact on the environment.
It is generally estimated that it takes up to 450 years for a plastic soda or water bottle to completely break down, and for some bottles up to 1,000 years. Since plastic has only been around for a few decades, it is safe to say that no plastic razor has yet been fully decomposed. Laser hair removal eliminates the need for razors and thus has the potential to significantly reduce waste.
#2 Water consumption
On average, people spend about 5 minutes longer in the shower when they shave. A regular shower head consumes an average of 15 liters per minute, with a economy shower head it is 5 liters per minute.
Not only do you consume about 75 liters of water per 5-minute shave in the shower (with a regular shower head), you naturally consume energy to heat this water. Of course, this also comes with a price tag. We calculated the consumption and cost based on data from Joannes Laveyne, energy expert at the University of Ghent:
|Regular showerhead||Consumption||Water cost||Energy cost||Total cost/shower||Total cost/year|
|Gas boiler||75 l||0.41 €||0.43 €||0.84 €||121 €|
|Heat pump||0.40 €||0.81 €||117 €|
|Electric boiler||1.20 €||1.61 €||231 €|
So by choosing laser hair removal and avoiding shaving, you drastically reduce the amount of water you use.
Of course, laser hair removal also consumes energy, but this of course only 4-8 sessions compared to a lifetime of heating shower water to shave.
#3 No shaving cream waste
Disposable razor blades are not the only things that end up as waste. The same goes for shaving cream containers. Although most cans are made of steel or aluminum, which can be recycled, not every recycling facility accepts aerosol cans. In turn, a plastic canister can create microplastics in the product.
#4 No harmful chemicals
Many shaving creams contain VOC's (volatile organic compounds) that are harmful to the environment. Between 5 and 10 percent of total VOC emissions come from skincare products. In addition, some shaving creams contain ingredients that are toxic to animals. Chemicals and ingredients in commonly used shaving creams and gels (such as glycols, PEGs and isopentane) can have harmful effects when they enter the aquatic ecosystem. Many of these ingredients cannot dissolve in water, which can affect animal and plant growth. They are also absorbed by fish and other organic matter in aquatic ecosystems and can end up on our table. Lasers, on the other hand, do not emit anything harmful to you or the ecosystem.
#5 No waxing waste
Waxing is not only uncomfortable for you, but also for the planet. The process involves throwing away the wooden applicators and strips after use, and wax can take years to break down. And petroleum-based wax is not biodegradable, and it takes thousands of years to break down (if at all).