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Louisa Pearson: ‘My Dad once laughed about having found an earwig in his beard’

Will it be the Terry Thomas? The Burt Reynolds? The (wince) Tom Selleck? Mr Green spends a lot of time muttering and I have mastered the art of tuning it out. But when the muttering includes the phrase “grow a moustache”, the tuning device sends out a red alert.

He has been inspired by the Movember fundraiser (www.movember.com), whereby gents grow a moustache for the month of November in order to raise awareness of and funds for prostate and testicular cancer. I fully support the cause, but have a nagging fear about whether or not the tache will actually be disposed of come 1 December. He’s not the type to grow a Salvador Dali-esque attention-grabber, but he might just end up feeling far too comfortable about sporting a Frank Zappa handlebar.

When removal day arrives, I will be standing by with a razor. Or will I? We don’t need any carbon footprint calculations to appreciate that beards and moustaches not only adhere to the classic image of the environmentalist, they are also the more eco-friendly approach. Shaving gel, razor blades and every other resource-depleting aspect of grooming is avoided for minimum planetary impact. Some men suit a beard – look at Brian Blessed. Others don’t. My dad once laughed about having found an earwig in his beard, and quite frankly this remark left me with a deep-rooted suspicion of facial hair.

The greenest way of shaving? With an old-fashioned, straight-blade razor. Loved by Sweeney Todd, these razors require dexterity and the odd sharpening session, but with care and attention will last for years. The traditional accessory is a shaving brush made of badger hair but, unless you support the cull, you might want a synthetic alternative.

If this style of razor scares you as much as me, then the next best option is a reusable safety razor – a stainless steel affair where you replace the blades as required. But how to dispose of the blades? I couldn’t find a green answer to this – recycling isn’t recommended because of the safety risk so most councils advise wrapping well and putting in your general waste bin.

What about disposable razors? Bad, bad, bad. In the US it’s estimated that 20 billion of them go to landfill each year. Plastic materials and lots of component parts tend make recycling impossible, and these multi-bladed marvels come swamped in packaging. The shave might be close but the implement is heading straight to landfill. Some firms have tried to make the disposable razor less depressing – the Recycline Preserve is made from recycled materials and the handle can be recycled after use. Another option is a blade sharpener. These cost about a tenner and claim to help blades last for up to 150 shaves rather than the usual handful.

Next up is the electric razor – the choice of sensitive chaps like Mr Green. Again, there are raw materials, manufacturing, transport and packaging to take into consideration, as well as energy use – although this is low in comparison to other gadgets and appliances. The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive means electric shavers can now be recycled and so, since they should perform for years in between, are a big step up from disposables.

Or you could seek out the Power Plus Piranha wind-up shaver (£24.99). As the name suggests, it is powered by manly muscle rather than electricity (although it does come with a charger for times when your strength fails you). Sounds like just the thing to give to Mr Green as an early Christmas present. •

 

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