After realising just how much tissue paper I was going through with my cyclist’s sniffle1, even if it does then go in the compost, I’ve made the decision to switch to handkerchiefs. 

I had one cotton one kicking around in my box-of-fabric-bits, but also ordered a box of 8 organic cotton flannel hankies which arrived yesterday.  Conclusion: nice and soft (more so than the old regular cotton one), although if I had a full-on cold I’m not sure if they’d be as soothing as the disposable aloe vera ones.  (I can however try applying actual aloe vera in this instance, from the very healthy plant in the living-room.)  The advantage of cotton though is that it softens with use and washing. 

(I have a discount code for these people now which I’m free to hand on — let me know if you want to use it.)

Discussion with a friend gave rise to the question “but if you have to boil or boil-wash them is it actually environmentally better?”.  After due consideration I can’t really see the need to boil them: I don’t do that with any other piece of clothing that I might get bits of bodily fluids on (& we’ve just acquired a dog: I’m not about to boil any clothing that gets dog-slobber on it either), and I don’t see that hankies would be that much more germ-laden as a rule.  As & when I actually get a cold I’ll probably rinse & maybe soak in hot water before I chuck them in the wash. 

(Amnesty also do fair-trade organic hankies if you want to try those.)

This Times article (scroll down) discusses the environmental benefits of hankies: the average European tissue usage is 13kg per person per year, which is kind of boggling.  I’m even more pleased now that I’ve ditched the disposables.

1. Going fast and/or cold weather makes your eyes water, which makes your nose run.  There’s a reason why bike gloves all have that little soft absorbent patch on the back of the thumb.  In fact my sniffle doesn’t seem to be entirely cycling-induced, either; most annoying.