Aaachooo! Cloth Tissue? (Revisited)


My mother was visiting recently and she was going to stay for a week. My husband teased me about getting “fancy guest tissues” when I bought a box of disposables in anticipation for her visit.

She’d come from Belgium to see us and brought her own handkerchiefs, confiding that she’d gone “European” regarding the matter.

A year ago, I resolved to use handkerchiefs and sewed some up from an old sheet. Then, I stuffed them into old tissue boxes in what I thought were strategic locations throughout the house. This didn’t seem to work so well because I couldn’t keep up with single-use blows and throws (into the laundry). I didn’t want to sew as many as I might’ve needed, especially when we’re sick.


Any zero waste endeavor means finding a system that works well for your family. And my sheet-tissues had missed their mark.

Well, we fell into a habit of forgoing the disposable tissues in favor of a roll of recycled toilet tissue. When colds subsided, the rolls could find their way to the bathroom where an occasional blow could be accomplished in privacy. The tissues could then be flushed or composted.

Going Forward

I’m mostly happy with this scenario, but not quite. I’m frequently sick and compost buckets seemed to still be collecting a lot of dead trees.

I decided to try personal handkerchiefs for those day-to-day, out-and-about needs. This way, the toilet paper could still be a solution, but would be a secondary one, after the use of cloth. So, I purchased a set of men’s handkerchiefs for my husband so he could slip a new one in his back pocket when getting ready for work in the mornings.

The much smaller ones that I had sewed last year would be mine. The reason being, women’s pants have smaller, tighter pockets and full-size handkerchiefs and bandanas are too bulky.

Assuming that I can get my husband and myself into the habit, our waste will be drastically reduced. As the kids get bigger, they’ll be used to seeing us pull out handkerchiefs and they’ll get their own personal sets.

Until next time, keep that talk walking!


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