Sustainability researchers from Lund, Great Britain and Italy wanted to increase understanding of how big a product’s environmental impact is and what is included in a so-called life cycle analysis.
They wanted to try something simple and everyday – so they opted for hair removal products found in many homes.
– Many users want to find out what impact their things have on the environment, but we rarely realize everything that should be included in that analysis. As a general, you have no chance to investigate it. We can track production to some extent, but it is very difficult to measure the entire life cycle of the product. For example, how bathing at the same time as we routinely shave our legs affects life cycle analysis, says researcher Catherine Ellsworth-Greb at the University of Strathclyde in Great Britain.
Razors have a huge environmental impact
The environmental impact of three different products – a wax strip, a laser and a disposable razor – was calculated for ten years of use.
The banana is a fruit that has had a huge impact on the environment. Measured on bananas, ten years of use of wax strips corresponded to 263 bananas, laser to 61 bananas, and razor to 70,304 bananas. This is equivalent to the production of four laptops.
– Hair removal may seem like an everyday beauty and everyday purchase, but over the years there have been some environmental impacts. Especially considering how many unnecessary practices we burden the planet with, says Kathryn Ellsworth-Krebs.
While it is not the individual’s job to solve the world’s environmental problems, he believes we can do something by changing the way we think about planetary boundaries.
– We need more information about the environmental impact of the products we buy. Not only cost of production, but also waste management, quality and most importantly, utilization should be measured. Traveling by train is more environmentally friendly than car, yes. But most importantly, we must travel less, and in doing so, travel less distance.
Focus on behaviors and practices
But most of all, researchers want to put their finger on the irrationality of certain behaviors.
– Catherine Ellsworth-Krebs continues to clarify that our most important decision is not really which method of hair removal is best, but which social structures we are trapped in:
– Instead of finding a product with less environmental impact, we should start thinking about naturalizing without shaving. Why don’t we stop these practices and leave the new generation alone?
Feminist LCAs: Finding leverage points for well-being within planetary boundaries, Sustainable production and consumption.
Tullia Jack, Associate Professor at the Department of Service Sciences, Lund University, [email protected]
Katherine Ellsworth-Krebs, Department of Design, Manufacturing and Engineering Management, University of Strathclyde, [email protected]
Monia Nero, Associate Professor at Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies, [email protected]
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