Zero-waste tip: In praise of the handkerchief

Autumn is here and the change in weather heralds the onset of sniffs and sneezes, chills, colds and flu. In our family journey to live with less waste, we made a dreadful discovery last winter - our rubbish bins were full to overflowing with tissues! Sure, we were using “ethical” tissues from a well-known brand that doesn’t give a… (rhymes with trap), but it was pretty shocking to see how many tissues a family of four could go through during cold season.

So we are switching to handkerchiefs. Fans of the humble hankie already know how wonderful these simple scraps of cloth are, but to the uninitiated, I’m here to tell you how they have changed my life for the better! And the ABC agrees with me:

Firstly, as items more associated with an older generation, hankies are in large supply at Op Shops everywhere and cheap as chips. So for a fraction of the cost of a winter supply of tissues, you can pick up some beautiful cotton squares that will last through years of wintery nose-blows.

Secondly, your nose will love you for making the switch, as cotton hankies protect he skin around your nose from getting raw and chapped. Truthfully, I didn’t really believe this claim until I experienced it for myself. I hate getting a sore nose when I have a cold, and confess I had a soft spot for those tissues infused with aloe vera and other lotions. With a hankie, there’s no need for those energy and water-intensive single-use tissues as the cotton cloth is beautifully absorbent and soft on your schnozz. No more red noses!

Lastly, using hankies means wearing clothes with pockets, and as these are my favourite type of clothes to wear, it makes me very happy to pop a colourful cotton square into my pocket in the morning, ready for a day of tooting, honking and blowing!

So, as a life-long member of the Big Nose club, and coming from a long line of hooter-blasters, I suggest making the switch to hankies. If you are a crafty sort, making your own is super easy. I got some bias binding and some old cotton pillow cases already soft with wear from the Op Shop, and hey presto - handkerchiefs galore!

So remember to stock up on lemon, honey, ginger and hankies this Cold and Flu season.

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WasteLisa Richards