Zero Waste Alternatives to Tissues

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Zero Waste Tissues | I’ve always had this love, hate relationship with Fall. Yes, it’s pretty and we don’t have to fight the sweltering heat any longer, and the leaves are glorious, and it’s time for pumpkins, Halloween, and Fall festivals, but it’s always that time for allergies, the flu, and numerous sinus infections. It also doesn’t help that the little guy is in daycare and we all know what kind of germ factories those are. Just yesterday I went to pick him up and stuck right to the front door was a big, black and white notice that said, “LICE REPORTED.” Great.

Before I journeyed down the environmental path, I’d stock up on mega packs of disposable tissues so when I got sick, I’d be prepared. I’d amass a giant mountain of used tissues next to my bed that rivaled Mt. Everest. I’d probably go through about 2 boxes per month like the average American. I think we’ve all been there, right?

Thankfully, like nearly all disposable products, there is a reusable alternative to my tissue box hoarding obsession during these chilly Fall months. I always remembered my Great Grandparents carrying hankies and I thought, why don’t we do that any longer? Is it because marketing is just that good into turning us all into major germophobes so we fork over cash for, what we think/assume, are healthier, more sanitary products? Probably. I mean, what’s your first thought when you think about using a hankie?

Well, when I decided to live zero waste, I dove right in. All or nothing – that’s just how I am – you go at your own pace. Diving right in meant that I had to at least give hankies and reusable tissues a try…you know…for science.

My mother and I love scouring local antique stores, and one day I came across a basket of beautiful, floral hankies. I just couldn’t pass them up. Yes, they were secondhand but to me, that’s a bonus. I purchased 3, took them home, washed them, and stuck them in my purse for when my nose started to betray me. When they are ready for washing, I put them in my wet bag, that I already carry because I’m a menstruating woman, and I have a diaper wearing child. They work wonderfully! Yes, I may get the occasional, “you use a hankie?” Followed by a raised eyebrow but I feel it’s best to approach something like “zero waste living” with as much confidence as you’ve got. That’s the best way to get people on board, I assure you.

If you’d like your own beautiful, hankie, check out my shop!

Now, for those instances where I’m constantly blowing my schnozz, I have turned to a quick, t-shirt upcycle project to make it more sanitary and convenient. Because we all know, 3 hankies are not enough for a cold.

Zero Waste Tissues

To make your own. Take an old cotton or flannel t-shirt, cut it into scraps, about the size of a standard tissue, and stuff them into a jar or any container for that matter. Put them on your coffee table, bedside table, or in the bathroom for when Fall gets the better of your nasal cavities.

I do have to mention, that my nose does not get red, chapped, and raw like it used to with disposable tissues. The fabric is more gentle.

You can also use essential oils to help relieve nasal congestion.

To your jar of tissues, add a few drops of lime, lemon, and peppermint essential oils. These oils will help break up that mucus and help relieve some of those symptoms.

Do you use reusable tissues or hankies?

16 thoughts on “Zero Waste Alternatives to Tissues

  1. I have quite a few washcloths that I wasn't using so they became “tissues” for me the last time I was sick. I put the used ones in a mesh laundry bag to keep them somewhat contained. But recently I found a large piece of flannel fabric at a thrift store (in a rather ugly color) that I plan to cut up like you suggested. I didn't think about adding the essential oil though. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Absolutely! I am from India and here we absolutely use hankies all the time. Be it for daily use or you are having a running nose, it is so comfortable. Good to have you switch over!

  3. Hi! My daughter is now 6 years old and I ended up with a lot of cloth musselines, really soft ones, that I have since turned into nose hankies. It's worked great, so far, for 2 years now, maybe more. Only use them at the house, though, but something for te purse is a great idea. These are super soft and quite absorbant, and will last you a night of nose mucus �� which is mainly my problem. Will try your alternative ��

  4. I have been using scraps of flannel for quite a few years now. Along with my Grandmother's old hankies which have the added benefit of making me think of her. So much gentler on your nose during a cold!

  5. In Belgium, hankies are not that weird. I've grown up using them. I always have (at least) one tucked away I the pockets of my coat, especially during winter

  6. I actually find most hankies too harsh! I often buy pretty soft t-shirts, so now that I’m looking to grow my sustainable habits, I’m planning to cut up some rags and “tissues”.

    However, my true find was the myhanky handkerchief! Oh, my lord, they are the softest Pima cotton handkerchiefs you’ve ever put to your schnoz.

    I wholeheartedly recommend these handkerchiefs to anyone who has hesitated from getting into hankies! They are truly the best!

    Until I accumulate enough tissues for a cold, I plan to use up the paper tissues I still have. Tissues with lotion are my best friend when I have a really rotten cold, but if I can avoid those paper products the rest of the time? Yes please!

    Side note: I do compost all of my paper tissues!

  7. I have a very soft bed linen, which my cat has sadly scratched up, whiich I plan to turn into hankies and “paper” towel.
    One question, do you guys just sew around the edges to prevent fraying and that’s it?

  8. What about bloody noses? I get them all the time, especially in the winter, when it’s so dry. What should I do to make the process of cleaning them easier?

  9. Have always used fabric hankies. I have some from my mother, grandmother, grandmother-in-law and some that belonged to my husbands great aunt who was 106 when she died. All hers are embroidered by herself. Beautiful. I have some very old worn thin ones for when I have a nasty cold because they are so soft on a sore nose. They are so much nicer than paper tissues. They also don’t make a nasty mess all over the washing if you forget to take one out of your pocket! 😳

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