Megan Hall: Welcome to Possibly, where we take on huge problems like the future of our planet and break them down into small questions with unexpected answers. I’m Megan Hall.

The other day while I was shaving in the shower, I wondered- what’s the environmental impact of keeping my legs hair free?

To find out, we had Malia Honda and Iman Khanbhai [Ee-mon Cahn-Bye] from our Possibly Team look into this question.

Malia Honda: Hi, Megan!

Iman Khanbhai: Hello!

Megan Hall: So, should I be worried about the environmental impact of shaving? 

Malia Honda: To answer this question, we decided to talk with a few friends about their shaving habits.

   Emily Suong: My name is Emily Suong

   Alex Love: My name is Alex Love

Malia; Emily and Alex both use disposable razors on a regular basis. And we should say, they both shave more than your average person because they’re swimmers.

Emily Suong:

So we constantly are our bodies are constantly being viewed. So we have to kind of maintain that way more than I think a normal person would have to.

Iman Khanbhai: That said, They both use around one razor a month, which adds up to around twelve a year.

Megan: Is that bad?

Iman Khanbhai: Well, twelve razors won’t even fill a small trash bag. Think of all of the other things we throw away every day! It’s really not that big of a deal.

Megan: Ok, so I can shave my legs guilt free!

Iman Khanbhai: Well, not exactly. It turns out, razors are the least of your worries when it comes to shaving.   

Megan: What else would I need to consider? Shaving cream? Soap?

Malia Honda: Think about how long it takes you to shave in the shower. Is the water on?

Megan: Yes!

Iman Khanbhai: And is it warm?

Megan: Of course…

Malia Honda: That’s what most people do when they’re shaving. At least, that’s true of our friends Emily and Alex-

Alex Love: When I Take a typical shower. I’m always under the hot water except for when I’m shaving. I always just turn the shower head to the side, so it doesn’t hit me. Obviously a lot of water.

Emily Suong: I definitely use a lot more water when I’m shaving than if I don’t, like a substantial amount more.

Iman Khanbhai: Emily says her shower when she shaves is twice as long as one without shaving, while Alex’s is up to three times as long!

Malia Honda: So the difference between their normal showers and showers where they shave means that they are using two to three times as much hot water

Iman Khanbhai: And as Alex said, a lot of that water is going straight down the drain, not even being used to rinse off.

Malia Honda: That’s a lot of wasted water.

Megan: ok, but we use water for all sorts of things. Does that really make a huge difference?

Iman Khanbhai: It’s actually less about the water than it is about the energy it takes to heat that water.

Malia Honda: Which, in the US, is commonly stored in natural gas hot water heaters.

Megan: But is there a problem with them?

Malia Honda: Well, water heaters use up alot of the energy it takes to power our homes. In the US, about one fifth of home energy is used for our hot water heaters.

Megan: Does that mean I should switch my water heater because of my shaving habits? Or are there other ways to reduce greenhouse gases that this warm water produces ?

Iman Khanbhai: Well, as we said, a lot of this carbon dioxide goes straight into the water you’re wasting, so the more water you waste, the more carbon dioxide you are potentially putting into the atmosphere.

Malia Honda: Because the climate impact of your shaving comes way more from the water you heat than any sort of plastic waste that you may associate with shaving!

Megan: Does that mean I have to give up shaving?

Malia Honda: Consider changing up some of your shaving habits.

By turning the water down or completely off when you’re shaving.

Iman Khanbhai: Or just think about taking shorter showers in general!

Megan Hall: Great! Thanks, Malia and Iman!

That’s it for today. For more information, or to ask a question about the way your choices affect our planet, go to the public’s radio dot org slash possibly. Or subscribe to us wherever you get your podcasts.

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Possibly is a co-production of The Public’s Radio, Brown University’s Institute for Environment and Society, and Brown’s Climate Solutions Initiative.

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