I was pondering this the other evening as I was tackling my leg stubble. So, shaving is bad because the razors are made from petroleum-based plastics, the packaging is plastic and shaving makes your hair grow back in thicker and faster, so you have to do it more often and use more razors. It helps if you don’t use disposable shavers and just replace the blades, but the blades still end up in the trash.
If you wax, there are a few other things to consider. For example, what are the ingredients in the wax? Most likely, they are pretty icky, like “Yellow 11” (unless you use a sugar based type). In addition, most of the removal strips (who knows what they’re made from – maybe cotton) out there are not reusable and end up in the landfill. There is also the packaging. I have been using Nad’s strips recently, which come in a cardboard box. Other waxing products come in plastic jars or plastic tubes or plastic roll-on applicators. If you get waxed in a salon, it can also get pretty expensive (less $$ for organic veggies!!). On the other hand, waxing allows you to deal with hair removal less because, for most people, the hair grows back lighter.
There are definitely other ways of handling unwanted hair of course. There is electrolysis or laser hair removal, which I think is probably most sustainable because the hair is not supposed to grow back at all. (This path has always disturbed me. I think, "what if I wanted hairy legs at some point in the future. I couldn't reverse it!") The other OBVIOUS option is just going au natural and ignoring the social pressure. It's actually kind of neat to feel your leg hair rustling in the breeze. If that idea just made you cringe, and you can't afford the expensive options, there are still some things out there to make your hair removal experience more sustainable. For one thing, you can make your own sugar-based waxing substance. I actually remember my Russian friend Oleg telling me about in college – that his mother and sister swore by the stuff. Here is recipe I found on the internet. It is supposed to work very much like Nad’s, which I really like.HAIR REMOVER - BODY SUGARING
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
clean cloth cotton strips
wooden stick or spreader
Dust the area to be waxed, with cornstarch. Combine the first three ingredients in a clean glass bowl, and microwave for two minutes. Stop and stir your sugar mixture every 20-30 seconds. Let it cool to a comfortable warmth, and, using a wooden stick, spread a very thin layer onto your clean skin. Immediately cover the mixture with a strip of cotton fabric. Briskly stroke the strip several times in the direction of the hair growth, and then, pull the skin taut, and quickly rip away the cotton strip, against the direction of hair growth. As you proceed, you may need to reheat your sugar mixture in the microwave to keep it warm. Do not boil it or overheat as you could easily burn your skin.
If the DIY method is too much work for you (it can get a little messy), there are premade versions out there. Check out Moom’s Organic Hair Removal at Drugstore.com or Parissa Body Sugar also at drugstore.com. Or, if your pain tolerance is less than that required for waxing, you can purchase the Preserve razors with recycled handles composed of at least 65% recycled Stonyfield Farm yogurt containers, and with blades that are replaceable. Buy it directly from the company here.