When I met my boyfriend, he was 34 years old. A man that age is set into habits, and he is a particular creature of routine. So, when I shopped, I would dutifully pick up his cartridges, and he would use the same handle. They were expensive! Usually, I’d pick whatever was on sale — either three blades or five — but, one day, we decided that we were paying too much for blades. We wanted to find an alternative to the brand he had been using since his youth. The following is a letter that I sent to the company after an enlightening shopping trip.
To Gillette / P&G / Whom It May Concern,
My boyfriend received a complimentary Gillette razor in the mail for his 16th birthday. Since that day in 1991, nearly twenty years ago, he has been using the very same handle, loyally buying cartridges to fill it.
We noticed, while standing in the razor aisle, that your disposable razors are considerably cheaper than the cartridges. How on earth is it possible, we wondered, that it costs less to manufacture an entire disposable – with the same exact cartridge – than just a blade? We quickly realized that it isn’t. It seems more than a little deplorable that you should present a razor handle to someone simply to gouge him with inflated prices for the next twenty years. From an environmental standpoint it is irresponsible at best, to distribute larger, wasteful plastic produced pieces for less cost than those that make a smaller carbon footprint.
I understand Capitalism. I understand that the majority of your consumer base uses cartridges without noticing that they’re being taken advantage of. You can charge more, so you do. Sunday we bought three packages of disposable razors. As of this moment, they will be our last purchase of Gillette products. Our loyalty to your brand has been met with seeming contempt.
Our advice to you is to promote the use of cartridges through the appeal of the green movement – less waste is something that a lot of consumers consider in their purchases. Reflect the negative impact of a disposable razor in higher prices for wasteful products. People already quite loyally buy your cartridges, you don’t need to convince them on quality – they know you bring it. But do NOT treat your consumers like dollar signs.
You have an opportunity here. The example of a prolific company such as yours can set the pace for others to follow. Should you decline the challenge, I will find a company to accept it.
What ensued was a discussion about wet shaving. A couple of my male friends responded to this letter, which I posted to the notes section of my Facebook wall (note: I haven’t heard from P&G or Gillette at all. Nor have I found a company willing to change this cycle. Surprising, no?). They told me about their love of double-edge razors for the experience of shaving, the quality of the shave and the cost. I was skeptic, as I think many people are. There’s just . . . one blade there. How can it shave as closely as a razor with three or five? I have little kids, do I want to be storing razors in the house? Are you really saving money?
Little by little the guys convinced me that the initial investment would quickly pay off. Plus, I was running out of disposables, so it was time to act. For Father’s Day, I purchased my boyfriend a shiny new DE razor, blades, a badger brush, a soap dish and a 3-inch unscented shave soap cake in a kit available from Classic Shaving. He’s pretty hard to shop for, so I was really glad that I could purchase something that wasn’t in the “need” category that he might actually “want.” He was unsure, and his first several shaves were slow and deliberate. I think the blade intimidated him, and he was worried that he’d get cut.
He didn’t cut himself, and he still hasn’t. He reports greater control of the razor and its angle, and he gets a shave that’s every bit as close with one blade as he did with five. Except, they last forever now. He has a thick beard, and he shaves at least three times a week — only before he goes into work because he doesn’t love shaving THAT MUCH. The first dozen razors I bought for him lasted until well after Christmas. He can use the same blade for much longer than a disposable cartridge would ever hope to hold up. He uses a lot less shave soap than he did cream, too. I bought him three cakes for Christmas last year, and he just put a new one in the dish a week ago or so.
I just bought him a box of 100 Feather brand razors, as they are his favorite, for about $20. I imagine I’m done shopping for him in the shave department for at least three years or so. You just can’t beat DE shaving from a frugal or green standpoint, so I’m glad my friends took the time to convince me. I have used his wet shaving kit once or twice, but I find it very terrifying to navigate the curves of my legs. I took a nice chunk out of my ankle with the razor once, and I haven’t been able to pick it back up, though I intend to eventually get back on the horse. However, he’s happy with being done with Gillette, and he loves his DE. I’m thinking my dad needs one next…
Sonja Dorsey is a lifelong cook, a full-time student, and a self-proclaimed nerd. She blogs about laughter, love and life at ilkaisha.
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