Autumn has officially begun and for many of us this means sniveling and blowing our noses. And what do you use for that? Handkerchiefs (I hope)! Unfortunately a single use handkerchief doesn’t live a long life, you blow your nose once (or twice?) and hop, into the bin (often to landfill (!), because in The Netherlands handkerchiefs can’t be recycled). There has to be another way!
Having a Cold
Just like any other human, I have a cold every now and then. When this happened I used to get up in the morning and the first thing I did was to blow my nose. So I went into the bathroom, grabbed some toilet paper, blowed my nose and flushed the paper through the toilet. Wait! Stop! I haven’t even started my day properly and I have already polluted the world?
There had to be a different way. And maybe you can guess what the alternative is? Right, a cotton handkerchief. I have to say, the cotton handkerchief has a bit of an old-fashioned image, the only person I knew who had one was my grandpa. But who cares, I wanted to give it a try. And so, I hopped onto my bike (yes, green and all) and I biked to the city centre in Enschede*.
Maybe I am a bit of a perfectionist (*kuchkuch* more like a lot), but I wanted the handkerchiefs to be made out of organic cotton. If you do sometimes, you might as well do it right, huh?* I would recommend organic cotton if you are searching for handkerchiefs, but I could not find them myself. Eventually, I bought six new* handkerchiefs at HEMA for 2,75 euros (big plus, they’re really cute). Not expensive if you consider that you only have to buy them once and never ever have to buy single-use handkerchiefs anymore!
Wash and Reuse
Okay, so I have six cotton reusable handkerchiefs. The amount you need depends on how often you do your laundry. After having them for a while, I’d say I need a maximum of three (and so, I shouldn’t have bought six). They can easily go with the regular laundry, just like the zero waste cotton pads I wrote about earlier. I am very lucky, because even though I still live with my parents, my dad is sweet enough to wash them.
I really like the cotton handkerchiefs. I think the result is just the same as with the single-use handkerchiefs, except for the fact that the cotton handkerchiefs are a little bit softer for my nose. I always keep a handkerchief with me. For blowing my nose, but also for other purposes if they’re clean. When I want to buy a zero waste sandwich for instance.
What about the waste?
The old situation:
– Piles and piles of snotty paper waste (chopping down trees unnecessary)
– Even more waste, the plastic that comes with every single pack of single-use handkerchiefs. It’s around an individual package, but also around the packages all together.
The new situation:
– No more waste!
Tip: if you have some old sheets or any other fabric lying around which you don’t use, cut the handkerchiefs out of this fabric. This saves you money, you recycle old things and don’t have to buy anything new.
*when I wrote this blogpost I was into zero waste, but I didn’t know much about other sustainability issues just yet. And so, I bought the handkerchiefs new. Right now, I would not recommend doing this at all! Buying new things is the most harmful thing you can do to our planet. So, if you want handkerchiefs, please consider using some old fabric for it.