Simple Things | The hanky controversy

22 June 2016 | ResolutionPossible


Hanky vs tissue (1) 2015-10-06

Old cotton handkerchiefs that may have doubled as dolls’ blankets or dusting cloths, are now taking back their rightful place in society: at the end of our noses.

As most countries in the northern hemisphere move into summer, we thought it was time to address a snotty controversy: the handkerchief.

Your poor nose has survived months of colds and flu only to be faced with the inevitable hay fever season. Not everyone gets hay fever, and some get it worse than others, but all of us still carry a packet of tissues around with us as floating fluff and pollen make our noses run. Again.

Let’s say on average we go through at least one pack of 10 paper tissues per week, or let’s say about one box of 100 tissues in about two weeks… Times that by the millions of people living in your country. Without even doing the maths, the conclusion is clear: we use a lot of paper just for wiping tears and blowing noses.

Soft tissue paper is made by first creating paper pulp using wood fibre or recycled wood and paper. So the key ingredient for our snotty tissues: trees. Trees are logged and cut into chips which are then ground into fine flakes. Find out more about the tissue-making process in this video called Tissue Products Mill by soft paper tissue manufacturer Clearwater Paper.

Not only trees are needed to produce soft paper tissue. The production of our tissues uses tonnes of water, energy and chemicals. The environmental costs are huge. This is a high price to pay for a bit of paper to blow our noses in.

This is why we propose to open the conversation about the age old, yet very controversial, handkerchief.

Once you have bought yourself your handkerchief, you will have it for life. No more tissues and plastic wrappers in the bin, no more cardboard boxes in your recycling bin (because: even though recycling is preferable to landfill, it still uses a lot of energy to recycle something!).

Tips on good hanky management

You can pop your hanky in the wash with other things you were going to wash anyway. It won’t take up more space, won’t use more energy.

Buy several – This way you can pop your used handkerchiefs in the laundry basket and wash them as and when, while you have enough extras to get you through the week. Or to get you through your cold. Or a really sad film.

Make your own – You don’t need to buy a stack of handkerchiefs, you can make your own! Use soft fabrics from for example an old cotton shirt or dress, or old Tshirts. You can use pinking shears¬†or you can hand sew a seam into your hanky to stop the fabric from unravelling, and there you are: your own sustainable stack of hankies!

People will tell you they think handkerchiefs are disgusting – Ignore them. Pop your hankies in the wash (not on their own, you don’t want to waste energy on doing just a hanky wash!) on a regular basis, make sure you have a stack of them to see you through, and you’ll see that using hankies is just as hygienic as using paper tissues. Plus you are reducing your negative impact on the planet a little. A massive plus!

We urge you to help us make the handkerchief a normal feature in our society again. Share your Hanky Controversy thoughts: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Find out more about Simple Things you can do to start reducing your impact on our planet.

Hanky vs tissue (2) 2015-10-06

If it’s between paper tissues and handkerchiefs, the majority of us would choose the paper tissues. Sadly, the production processes and waste that are connected to paper tissues are energy consuming and polluting. Which would you choose?


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