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Thursday, September 29, 2016

From the Annals of Razor Blade Disposal

Want to induce culture shock among the millennials (and others) in your life?  Introduce them to the widespread Postwar-era practice of razor blade disposal lovingly depicted in this blog post.  Back then, a significant minority of shavers would discard their used double-edged blades through a slot in the back of their bathroom medicine cabinets.

Out-of-sight, out-of-mind, the rusting, blood-flecked blades would accumulate, sometimes for years, in the narrow space between the walls of one’s bathroom and an adjacent room. The yield:  a distinctive detritus for future homeowners and home restorers. (And perhaps down the road for a forensic DNA researcher or two)  

You can still buy slotted medicine cabinets on eBay.  But they’ve gone the way of household ephemera like coal chutes, dumbwaiters, milk doors, and root cellars.  

With the slotted cabinets, the idea was to maximize personal safety by minimizing handling and injury from the used blades. They were, after all, marketed as safety razor blades.

That disposal strategy, with its relative disregard for inheritors of the mess, flies in the face of today’s expanded consciousness, which emphasizes recycling and a systems-oriented mindset that accounts for the consequences and destinations of disposal. Still, razor blades are not on the list of items that I can drop into my recycle bin in “progressive” Amherst, Massachusetts. So, like many of my friends and neighbors, I pitch them, ensconced in their plastic containers, into the trash. I for one would be grateful for clear instructions and a behaviorally convenient solution to the matter.

Of course, there’s always the Norelco solution, which has been with us since the days of razor-blade wall slots. (see below)