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Tissues vs. Handkerchiefs (Zero-Waste Journey)

Tissues vs. Handkerchiefs (Zero-Waste Journey)

I blow my nostril rather a lot. I imply rather a lot. 

I don’t have allergy symptoms; I simply have a runny nostril within the morning. Each morning. My nostril runs after I run (solidarity and all that). My nostril runs after I hike. After I work out. After I watch Little Home on the Prairie. (Severely, on the spot waterworks inside 5 minutes of an episode.)

Our toilet wastebaskets are (had been!) perpetually filled with soiled tissues — one blow, one toss. Use as soon as (perhaps twice), endlessly in a landfill. 

Why? As a result of used tissues can’t be recycled, and apparently there are blended opinions as as to whether they are often composted (germs which will stay and all that). I think about the blended opinions must do principally with residence compost techniques (which we have now) versus municipal compost techniques (which we have now), and I simply came upon that used tissues can certainly be tossed into our “inexperienced bin” — the identical bin we are able to use for meals scraps, yard scraps, and even most paper merchandise. It took me all of 5 minutes to speak to a beautiful gentleman at Waste Administration in Oakland (CA) to verify this, so I like to recommend calling your individual metropolis if they’ve a compost service you pay for. 

Nonetheless, not solely did I not notice that each one these years I may have been composting my used tissues (self-flogging scheduled), I’ve already decided to cease utilizing single-use paper tissues, and I’m sticking to it. I’m going to be utilizing one thing I NEVER in 1,000,000 years thought I’d use: reusable, washable handkerchiefs. Yup, the very factor I made enjoyable of my father for utilizing my complete life. 

In any case, the downside with single-use merchandise isn’t just what occurs on the finish of their use. The issue is how they’re created within the first place. 


Earlier than They Have been Tissues, They Have been Bushes

Individuals use upwards of 255,360,000,000 disposable facial tissues a 12 months (sure, that’s 255.3 billion).1 That doesn’t even embrace North Individuals. Or South Individuals. Simply individuals who dwell in america. 

Bushes: Whether or not the facial tissue is constructed from virgin or recycled paper pulp it’s nonetheless constructed from timber, which might take years or a long time to develop. Logging practices can degrade forests thus contributing to world warming, trigger lack of habitat for vegetation and animals, and pollute waterways. And even recycled paper will be re-recycled solely a restricted variety of occasions. Plus, have you ever ever wiped your nostril with a recycled tissue? Makes me cry simply fascinated by it! 

Manufacturing: Paper vegetation use large quantities of water and electrical energy. Additionally they pollute the air and water.  Add to that the bleaching that takes place for many tissues and the packaging that comprises plastic (that by no means biodegrades).

Transportation: After all, the uncooked supplies in addition to the completed tissues are transported to and from factories by way of CO2 emitting autos.

And so…as at all times, there’s a higher manner, and — as is usually the case — it’s a bit retro. Enter the hanky

It’s by far probably the most Earth- and animal-friendly selection to your runny nostril (or for eradicating make-up or wiping your arms). I do know this concept may be unappealing to some, however for me, what’s most unappealing is the pointless waste we’re creating. However take a look at it this fashion: as with most issues from the previous, there’s a sure quaintness connected to utilizing a bit of cloth to dry our snouts, and there are different advantages as nicely. 

Prices in {dollars}

You may be asking, “isn’t it costlier to purchase handkerchiefs vs. single-use facial tissues?” The brief reply is no. The lengthy reply is … your individual calculations will depend upon what number of handkerchiefs you have to to purchase to exchange the paper tissues you usually maintain. (Traditionally, I’ve had a field of tissues in each room of my home. No exaggeration.) However as with so many way of life adjustments, this may most certainly be a one-time funding. Greater than that, you should purchase inexpensive classic hankies from a thrift retailer — wash them in sizzling water whenever you get them residence —otherwise you make your individual hankies from previous sheets and pillowcases. And that’s free! (See under!)

However let’s do some math. (Properly,  ZeroWasteBackPacker already did the mathematics, so test it out should you’re .) In brief, utilizing washable, reusable hankies are far cheaper than shopping for single-use tissues.

Prices in non-renewable assets

You may be asking: doesn’t it take extra assets to clean handkerchiefs? Once more, another person did the work for me so I didn’t must, so should you’re , a radical evaluation and comparability of the issue was carried out by Greenlifestylemag they usually concluded that relating to the water use, vitality use, and waste, the standard hanky was arms down the extra sustainable possibility.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: When you’re shopping for brand-new hankies (not classic ones), unbleached, natural cotton would be the best option environmentally talking. Higher but, simply reduce up previous sheets you may have mendacity round or head to the thrift retailer for previous cotton sheets or classic hankies.

Isn’t it …  gross to make use of handkerchiefs?

Final time I checked: tissues are fairly gross. Mainly, if — like with tissues — you blow every thing out of your schnoz right into a hanky then shove it into your pocket and repeat a number of occasions (after which neglect it’s in there), yeah, that’s gross. However should you’re simply wiping your nostril, it’s actually not that totally different than wiping your nostril on a tissue and placing it again into your pocket or purse. However for severe blows, simply use a clear hanky!

How do you carry them round? How do you not neglect them whenever you depart the home?

The identical manner that previously I remembered to convey paper tissues with me. It’s simply one of many issues I ensure that is in my pocket or purse. In truth, whereas I take advantage of the cut-up sheets as hankies for inside the home, I purchased some fairly hankies for me to maintain in my purse — like the women of yore did — and I take advantage of a gorgeous little bag my pal purchased me for Christmas to maintain the used ones in. (I suppose this isn’t how all women of yore did it. I bear in mind my paternal grandmother often saved hers shoved in her bra strap. No matter works.)  After I get residence, I toss the used hankies within the hamper. 

However what about for home company and guests? What if they need a tissue?

I had a pair units of sheets and pillowcases sitting in my linen closet that had been clearly by no means going to get used. Just lately, I spent a couple of minutes slicing them up into tissue-size hankies, and I refilled all of my cute little tissue holders with them. I put a notice on the within lid of every to let individuals know they’re washable / re-usable.

However right here’s the BEST PART: the lovable little wastebaskets I’ve in our bogs…have now turn out to be cute little hampers!  

I. can’t. inform. you. how. joyful. that. makes. me. My husband is aware of, as a result of I gave him a giddy tour of our new system! So, company…they’ll deal

How do you wash handkerchiefs?

You may simply add them to a daily load, however I’d use heat water for his or her cycle. In case you’ve had a chilly or flu, use sizzling water. You too can use mesh laundry luggage. And no, it doesn’t take extra assets to clean hankies. Keep in mind the water use from our paper merchandise? Manner. Extra. Water.

Permission to pasturbate (on this case)

Like most everybody, I pasturbate. (That’s my time period for over-romanticizing the previous.) Typically pasturbating is nice (like how a lot I like Little Home on the Prairie), typically not (like once we romanticize how we used to eat animals, examined toxins on them, and made them journey bicycles to entertain us. Oh, wait, that’s not previously — but).

My level is: relating to hankies, pasturbating is an effective factor. 

There was a time when individuals acknowledged that it doesn’t make sense to make use of one thing as soon as, then throw it away. There was additionally a time when issues had been made to final…therefore, my utilizing a classic handkerchief made 30 years in the past or extra. (There was additionally a time when dropping a handkerchief was a flirtatious act! I wish to see you convey that again!)

Handkerchiefs had sentimental worth, as nicely, and we are able to convey that again. After I received married, within the conventional method of issues, my mom gave me “one thing previous,” and guess what it was? A handkerchief. I nonetheless have it at this time and consider her each time I take advantage of it. Previous to my zero-waste journey, I used it extra as a doily; at this time, I take advantage of it the way in which it was meant for use, and I feel she could be proud. ? 

The place ought to I purchase handkerchiefs?

  1. Ask your grandparents, dad and mom, or an older pal in the event that they nonetheless have some hankies at residence. You may be shocked!
  2. Buy new hankies (natural beneficial) on-line or at a division retailer (often stocked within the males’s part). Some of us prefer to get kids’s hankies, that are often 8×8; girls’s hankies are often 10×10 or 12×12; males’s hankies are usually bigger.   
  3. Buy classic hankies on eBay or Etsy or in native thrift or classic shops. 
  4. Make your individual. In case you take pleasure in stitching or DIY, make them your self out of an previous sheet, t-shirt, or favourite cloth you may have mendacity round. I’ve no endurance for such issues, which is why my do-it-yourself ones received’t be as fairly as yours, however they do the job! 


  1. Calculated primarily based on 2012 facial tissue tonnage (399) from RISI – US Tissue Month-to-month Knowledge, January 2013 multiplied by 20 (approximate variety of facial tissues in a single ounce).
  2. https://www.statista.com/statistics/284960/amount-of-facial-tissues-used-within-30-days-in-the-us-trend 

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