Facial tissue blows | Queen of Green | David Suzuki Foundation
Photo: Facial tissue blows

Use a hanky and blow off facial tissue. (Credit: alexmontjohn via Flickr)

In my house, there are two options for wiping a runny nose: hanky or toilet paper. Guests often choose the latter.

People I respect use hankies — my late grandfather, Harold, and David Suzuki.

Will you save trees? Probably. An added bonus: never cleaning up after a facial tissue that goes through the wash!

Here's my simple three-step program:

Step 1: Buy, make or "inherit" hankies

First, raid Grandma's closet or chest of drawers (a Great Aunt or Uncle will do). Second, if you can sew a straight-ish line, you can make a hankie from scrap fabric. Finally, stop being so cheap and buy some. Hankettes and Hank&Cheef are organic cotton options made in Canada.

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Step 2: Wash your hands

Reusing a hanky exposes you to no more germs than carrying around a used facial tissue. Hanky Etiquette 101: always wash your hands after blowing your nose!

Step 3: Make hand sanitizer

Can't easily wash your hands after each blow? Make a batch of hand sanitizer to keep at your desk, in your purse or car.

Hand sanitizer recipe

60 ml pure aloe gel
125 ml grain alcohol (e.g., vodka) or rubbing alcohol
5-8 drops tea tree or thyme essential oil

Mix and store in a squeeze bottle. Optional: add 30 ml of vegetable glycerin to combat the alcohol's drying effect.

Will you make the switch? And who makes your favourite hankies?

Comment on this blog to win eight Hankettes hankies or a set of kid's hankies by Hank&Cheef (draw date January 13th, 2014).

Sincerely,
Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

December 16, 2013
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/queen-of-green/2013/12/facial-tissue-blows/

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171 Comments

Jun 15, 2014
7:33 AM

I’ve always used hankies. I hate the idea of throw-away stuff when it’s not necessary. The germ thing? Never bothered me. How much more germ is it to have snotty tissues in the waste-paper basket at work, or in litter bins or wherever.

Washing is not an issue. Hankies are usually made of cotton so throw them in the hot wash with your other cotton stuff. They dry quickly (I don’t have a dryer) and don’t need to be ironed unless you love ironing.

And they are a great souvenir to collect when you are travelling. :-)

May 11, 2014
9:15 PM

My first husband used to use hankies and I tolerated it. What you don’t address in your recommendation to use hankies is how to wash a hankie? I just threw them in the washing machine (very hot water) along with his blue jeans and work shirts, as he was a carpenter. This was okay. However, what do you suggest as an alternative method of cleaning a used hankie? Also, the damp hankie in a pocket can pose a bit of a problem. Could you make a suggestion on how to store a soiled hankie until such time as you can get home to launder or hand wash it? (One idea I have is to carry a small plastic bag to place it in). I prefer plain tissue paper so I can throw it away.

Apr 17, 2014
7:35 AM

In our family, we love flannel sheets in the winter. As they wear and tear, I use the “good” parts of the fitted sheets to make hankies and rags. The center is worn to the quick but the edges are still sound. I simply cut off the elastic, cut squares out from the fabric and hem them. Normally, I simply wash them with the laundry and hang them to dry but when cold season strikes, I sometimes put a bunch of them in a large pot of boiling water with a bit of borax. I have a large pot that I use for dying fabric. I don’t think I’d fancy using the pot one day for boiling hankies and the next for making soup! Then I pull them out with a stick and wash as normal. Realistically, I only do this if colds are circulating in the family and I’m on a real cleaning kick. We never run out of tissues, it’s very soft on the nose and because I’m not buying new fabric, it’s very frugal. In terms of sanitary: North American have really bought into the tissue industry’s propaganda, haven’t we? And yet, we still kiss our lovers and swap bodily fluids? Procreation is very unsanitary. It’s all about perspective.

Jan 26, 2014
11:30 AM

I oppose the idea of travelling around with snot in my purse or back pocket,and subsequently putting it through the laundry.It seems unsanitary.

Jan 20, 2014
3:06 AM

A great idea to reduce waste…takes us back to the old days when everyone carried hankies…what goes around comes around.

Jan 14, 2014
5:48 PM

My dad always had the classic red or blue polka dotted ones, I now have a nice collection of my own along with some fancy ones I’ve inherited. Thanks for posting the sanitizer recipe, I will definitely try it!

Jan 13, 2014
10:24 PM

Great to encourage the use of hankies! I never used anything else till I came to Canada in 1957. Several years ago I realized the error of my Canadian ways and reverted to hankies. Same with throw away paper towels etc. Other than in public washrooms I never have used them. Paper napkins are another wasteful idea that offends my Scottish sensibilities. Cloth hankies, towels, napkins are very long lasting and infinitely thriftier.

Jan 13, 2014
9:18 AM

I don’t go anywhere without my hankie! We do keep one box of (recycled) kleenex in the house for guests, but it lasts about a year.

Jan 13, 2014
7:30 AM

We use flannel diaper liners for our three kids noses, as they are nice little squares that I get a good couple uses out of. Also the thin wash clothes that are sold for babies. I always have a couple of make-do hankies in my purse. My four-year old however has been asking for a “proper” handkerchief for about a year. I am sure he would love it if I embroidered his initials in the corner too!

Jan 12, 2014
1:42 PM

I love using reusable hankies. They are always so handy and convenient rather than to search for a paper napkin or something. I also love having ones with prints as they can make me smile a bit even if I’m not feeling 100%.

Jan 12, 2014
10:02 AM

Hankies are available at one of our local thrift shops for $.25 (yes 25 cents) each. And so many of them are beautiful, often hand embroidered, linen or cotton. Just lovely.

Please enter me to win eight Hankettes hankies. Thank you.

And thank you Lindsay for all you do.

Namaste, Linda

Jan 12, 2014
5:54 AM

I just discovered this great website today. I’ve always loved the idea of hankies but have been afraid of the germs. Thanks for the information.

Jan 11, 2014
1:52 PM

Thanks for the article. I recently started using a handkerchief and prefer it to tissues. Would love to have some more to give to my family!

Jan 11, 2014
11:39 AM

I inherited my fathers handkerchiefs (some never even used — I probably gave some of the packages to him as father’s day gifts over the years!). I had them in a drawer but now I’m going to pass them out to the family. They won’t be any dirtier than anything else that goes into the wash. One more paper product out of my home and my life!

Jan 11, 2014
8:36 AM

great idea. I use a hanky when I’m hiking. It works a lot better than paper tissue, especially in the rain!
I like this idea thanks Teresa

Jan 11, 2014
8:35 AM

I’ve used handerchiefs for years, and my (elder) Mother last week asked me if there was something I would like from her home….I requested handerchiefs: She gave me a stack of pressed, folded handerchiefs that belonged to my Dad and Grandfather….that had been used over 60 years ago!

Jan 10, 2014
1:57 PM

I love hankies and have been using them for years! I have some cool Japanese ones with details prints of cities, nature scenes, etc. I also love Hankettes — organic, soft and lovely!

Thanks for promoting hankies!

Jan 10, 2014
9:08 AM

I didn’t know this! Great information…

Jan 10, 2014
8:52 AM

I have gone back to hankies again!! When I was a child, everyone used hankies. I have several hand embroidered ones that were from my grandmothers. And yes I use them! I got out of the habit but went back several years ago. I also notice that when I am blowing frequently, the skin on my nose is much less irritated than with tissues.Never mind the piles of more disposable “stuff” that have disappeared from our home.

Jan 10, 2014
7:13 AM

Hankies are a great idea! I like the idea of using leftover cotton fabric to make my own and then I could personalized them for the family.

Jan 10, 2014
6:47 AM

I love using my hankies. My friends think it’s a bit odd, but like you say, it’s no worse than carrying around used Kleenex. Plus, I love fun patterns or pictures to personalize them :) even if I’m not feeling 100%, It can cheer me up.

Jan 10, 2014
12:11 AM

My roommate and I love our hankies, I bought 2 antique hankies years ago at an antique shop of all places, the one was beautifully made, quite small but lovely to blow the nose with, the other few that I have was given to me by my roommate. She inherited them from her mother and father, and lucky for me she gave me a few as a gift! One of them I call ‘grandpa’ hankie, it’s nice and big, and neutral colours. Thanks for the post on hankies, glad to see they are making a comeback again.

Jan 09, 2014
9:57 PM

I always carry a little hand towel with me to dry my daughter’s and my hands after washing in a public restroom — saves paper towels, and could be used to wipe dribbly noses in a pinch. Also, handkerchiefs are still used in Japan, so they can be purchased quite cheaply at Japanese shops like Daiso.

Jan 09, 2014
9:43 PM

I planned to start using hankies a few years ago and bought some dollar store hankies. Unfortunately the ones I bought were rough and not very absorbent, so my resolution didn’t last long. This post has encouraged me to try again. I’ll get more suitable hankies this time — maybe I’ll even win some in this contest. Thanks for the reminder to follow through on my plan.

Jan 09, 2014
9:36 PM

I love the idea of using hankies. What I’ve done to make my own version of hankies is to buy the terry baby cloths from Dollarama. There are about 4 small terry baby cloths in a package for about $1.25 or $1.50 (for the brighter colours). I put one or two terry cloths in a small ziploc bag and I put it in my purse or my coat pocket. They’re always handy especially just for the sniffles. I love the idea of saving money and saving trees! Thank you for the recipe for the hand sanitizer!

Jan 09, 2014
7:58 PM

My Dad used hankies for years. I found those old-fashioned hankies to be the best thing for babies because they were so much softer on their skin than tissues. I want to end our dependence on tissues and teach my kids to keep a clean hanky in their pockets (just like my Dad was taught) and save trees for my kids to climb and lie under.

Jan 09, 2014
5:36 PM

I have some old hankies from days gone by and was contemplating using them and gifting a few as well. What I really appreciate is your recipe for natural hand sanitizer. I have two out of the three ingredients in my pantry. Guess I need to buy some aloe gel. Thanks Queen of Green!

Jan 09, 2014
2:58 PM

I know what you say about using hankies instead of tissues is true. Even my two daughters and their families do not buy tissues anymore. I, however, have a hard time switching. Since I’ve read your thoughts here, I may give it another try. Are hankies really just as sanitary? Sorry, old habits….

Jan 09, 2014
2:37 PM

Hankies are elegant. I have a collection of vintage ones, silk, cotton, embroidered and printed. One for every occasion! I do y use paper towels either!

Jan 09, 2014
2:10 PM

As well, keep a second hankie in a coat pocket to use instead of hand towels and electric dryers in public washrooms. My kids prefer this as hand dryers are too noisy for their ears.

Jan 09, 2014
1:41 PM

My tiny Welsh grandmother always sent me hankies for Christmas and birthdays and I never had the heart to get rid of them, so I started using them back in the seventies. Much easier on the nose when you have a cold, and there’s a certain je ne sais quoi to dabbing your nose with a tiny lace square or flourishing a giant red polka-dotted affair to field an epic sneeze.

If you’re leery of throwing them in the regular wash, do as my nana did: boil them in a pot of sudsy water for 15 minutes and rinse. And I promise you, your washing-line will be an art installation!

Jan 09, 2014
1:39 PM

We’ve been looking for ways to reduce our needless use of paper products, and this is something we’re just starting to phase in. Love it!

Jan 09, 2014
12:19 PM

I have a couple pretty hankies from both grandmothers, some hand-made lace, monogrammed, a souvenir from the ‘old country’. I’ve 2 from an antique shop. Once when crying, I was given a purple and white flowered one, by a tourist. I have a couple of Dad’s, too. I treasure them, and will start to use them again.

Laundering is no problem. (cold water if nosebleeds). They look crisp when ironed, folded and peeking from a pocket, but I drip-dry all my laundry, so there’re seldom wrinkles when hung properly.

I think dressy hankies would make a lovely wedding favour. Linen is great as formal table napkins (mine are second hand), feels better than synthetic or paper. Good craft and gift ideas! Thanks for the sanitizer recipe!

Jan 09, 2014
10:49 AM

I first was made aware of cotton hankies about15 years ago from a group known as Reach for Unbleached. It is amazing how many second hand hankies you can find that look like new especially the pretty ones. Probably saved for best.

Jan 09, 2014
9:52 AM

Thank you for promoting this low-impact and useful article. For some reason, it is considered old-fashioned!
I’ve been using cloth hankies for 40 years, ever since I received some as a gift from a German family while working in Europe in my gap year after school. It’s an easy habit to get into, and they are also very practical when travelling and when wilderness hiking and canoeing. No need to carry a great wad of paper tissues, no need to search the stores for tissues, and never run out when in the backcountry!
PS. Washing tip: soak and quickly hand scrub the used hanky before putting it in the laundry.

Jan 09, 2014
9:26 AM

I’m glad to hear that hankies are no worse than used tissues. I like to use hankies, but don’t very often because of concern about spreading germs. Thanks for the encouragement.

Jan 09, 2014
8:59 AM

Perfect timing! I’ve been looking for an alternative to the mountain of tissues I use each day due to my sinusitis.

Jan 09, 2014
8:57 AM

I have been trying to do this for years. It is a challenging thing to get over- the germs in snot…

Jan 09, 2014
8:45 AM

I always need to blow my nose once a day at dinner time. I made small thin cloth napkins years ago. I use them to blow my nose, then just throw in the wash. So it does double duty- dinner napkin, then a nose blower. If they are small, they don’t take up much room in the wash. And how large does a napkin really need to be?

Jan 09, 2014
8:38 AM

Love the hand sanitizer recipe—thank you! The chemicals in commercial sanitizers are toxic to humans as well as germs, so its great to have another option.

Jan 09, 2014
7:16 AM

I have been using my dad and mom’s handkerchiefs, especially when I am doing extended outdoor activities. Bandanas also make handy handkerchiefs.

Jan 09, 2014
6:49 AM

I have been using hankies for about 30 years. I have many hankies, and I feel you can’t have to many. Some I made from scraps of material I had, some I got from my aunt or dad, and others I bought at thrift stores. These same ones have last all this time. They are different sizes, colours, patterns and thicknesses. Some I made from flannel for those heavy duty colds and others are pretty and dainty. I have had my lapses in using them, but I always go back. The one thing I have noticed is that tissues have fibres that get into your nose and I feel they cause you to sneeze more often and seem to extend the life of the cold. Thank you Lindsay for bring this piece of cloth to everyone’s attention.

Jan 09, 2014
6:26 AM

This was “me” (hankies and TP) before I met my partner who introduced tissue boxes to our household six years ago… Bolstered by your story, I will try to help our young family to make the switch back to my “old way”.

Hankettes have been my favourite hankies since I first discovered them at Grassroots in Toronto some ten years ago and later replenished my supply at Arbour in Ottawa. Now I turn to Life Without Plastic (online shop based in Wakefield, Quebec) for organic cotton hankies. I recently gifted one to my father who has been using hankies for as long as I can remember. [I might just pass this article along to him as a friendly reminder about step #2…]

Thanks for hand sanitizer recipe, I will try it!

Jan 09, 2014
6:20 AM

Great suggestion! I’ve been using (fresh) hankies to clean my glasses and use them when I get sick to avoid a dry nose. After reading this, I’ll try to use them more often.

Jan 09, 2014
5:23 AM

My husband uses hankies all the time, he had an allergy to Kleenex as a young man and has been using the hankies every since. Therefore, he has been doing the “green” thing with hankies for a long time. Our dog likes to take them out of his pocket and run with them (ha ha) so he is starting to get low on them.

Jan 09, 2014
4:40 AM

Getting back to basics is great! What did our grandparents do…of course, used hankies. Thanks for the awareness and the recipe.

Jan 09, 2014
4:29 AM

Ah ha! My wife’s wanted to make the switch. This article is the ticket to success. Please, more day-to-day articles like this. My monthly donation is being responsibly used!

Jan 09, 2014
3:30 AM

What a great idea, never thought of it, but I remember my father always having a hanky and buying them for him for gifts. I used to iron them when I was little, not sure why, I would think they would be a little harder on the nose after ironing? I think I will invest in a few, better than carrying a big wad of Kleenex in my pocket, at work, which often get wasted. Thanks!

Jan 09, 2014
3:23 AM

I have been using toilet paper to tuck into my sleeve for the purpose of blowing my nose, for a long time. At one time in my life, I did use hankies, lace I believe, and I would like to again. But what you didn’t talk about was how to wash them and I can’t even imagine the snot on my hanky going into the wash with all my other clothes. Back to you.

Jan 09, 2014
2:25 AM

Why have i not considered this before? Economical and earth friendly? Sign me up! Now to find some fabric….

Jan 08, 2014
9:55 PM

I have a collection of hankies and bandanas that I always carry and use. Once they have been washed a few times I find they are softer and feel better on my nose. I buy hankies when I can, have mades some out of an old flannel sheet and I also have a set of tea napkins from a chariuty shop in my collection.

However, as a teacher of 3 year olds I carry tissues for the children to use to wipe tears and runny noses. I consider these as job hazardswell worth the risk for being able to spend my days in the company of 3 and 4 year old children.

My family has a tradition of using hankies and I used some fun ones to wrap my daughter’s Christmas gifts.

Jan 08, 2014
9:25 PM

If you go to Japan there are amazing varieties of hankies for sale. I bought as many as I could while visiting, and 20 years later am still using many of them. Although, in Japan do not let folk see you blow your nose with one, they are for drying off your hands (or wiping your brow) as most public restrooms do not provide paper towels. A double savings if you use wisely.

Jan 08, 2014
9:22 PM

We have always used cloth hankies since I left home. When we started Mum brought me all of the fancy embroidered and tatted hankies from my grandmothers and grandaunties. We have used them until they are falling apart and it feels much better than saving them unused for yet another generation.

Jan 08, 2014
9:01 PM

We just bought some hankies from Hankettes and are really enjoying them. Thanks for sharing where to buy them. :)

Jan 08, 2014
8:47 PM

I have been using and collecting gorgeous vintage hankies for years. You can use heavy duty ones when you have a cold, and stash them everywhere. So worth it, and not ‘gross’ like many people think,

Jan 08, 2014
8:32 PM

My family started using hankies 10 years ago. We found our noses would not get irritated or raw during a cold. Hankies are easy to care for, can be made for cheap and come in any colour or pattern. We are happy to see the hanky trend again.

Jan 08, 2014
8:24 PM

I’ve been waiting for David S. to bring back his hankies! Washing your hands is something everyone should be doing and hankies are another perfect excuse!

Jan 08, 2014
8:14 PM

What an inspiration. I have hankies that my sister and I used when we were very young. Not sure why I kept them, but they have 1950’s caricatures on them. Why didn’t I think about pulling them out to actually use them again!

Thank you for the common sense and the great memories to my childhood!

Jan 08, 2014
8:10 PM

What great timing

Jan 08, 2014
7:44 PM

Homemade hand sanitizer — WHAT?! Lol I Love it — on my to do list for the week.

Jan 08, 2014
7:33 PM

I’d like to try hankies. If I could win these, it would help a lot to start up! Also, thanks for the sanitizer, I will try it too!

Jan 08, 2014
7:32 PM

Thank you for promoting this low-impact and useful article. For some reason, it is considered old-fashioned!
I’ve been using cloth hankies for 40 years, ever since I received some as a gift from a German family while working in Europe in my gap year after school. It’s an easy habit to get into, and they are also very practical when travelling and when wilderness hiking and canoeing. No need to carry a great wad of paper tissues, no need to search the stores for tissues, and never run out when in the backcountry!
PS. Washing tip: soak and quickly hand scrub the used hanky before putting it in the laundry.

Jan 08, 2014
7:23 PM

Not only are hankies environmentally great but they’re easy on your nose as well, you’re less likely to get any redness or irritation compared to tissue paper, especially the scented kind.

Jan 08, 2014
6:43 PM

As a child 30 years ago I would always borrow my dad’s hanky when my nose needed blowing!

Jan 08, 2014
6:08 PM

My grandmother instilled in me the importance of being ‘green’ at a very young age. This included reusing/repurposing (clothes, packaging, etc.), growing produce, and biking/taking the bus to name just a few. Nothing went to waste in her household. As an immigrant mother of 8 who grew up during the German occupation it just made sense. We should adopt more of these ‘old fashioned’ ideas.

Jan 08, 2014
6:07 PM

For all of the things I have changed in my life to try to reduce waste, I have never even thought of hankies instead of tissues! What an easy switch. I will do it for sure. Thanks for the tip.

Jan 08, 2014
5:50 PM

I really don’t remember which brand of hankies I have but I’m happy with any that I have in my possession. I like white ones for work so that they look more like Kleenix, so less conspicuous but prefer coloured ones for outside. They show up in the woods or snow more than the white ones if they drop out of your pocket. I’ve been happily using hankies for at less ten years and like to have enough for at least one per day. I do have to confess that I switch to tissues during cold season though. Susanne

Jan 08, 2014
5:48 PM

I’ve been using cloth handkerchiefs for years, and my mother just gave me a stack of nicely pressed hankies that belonged to my Dad and my Pip, that must be 80 years old!

Jan 08, 2014
5:46 PM

This contest is a great way to inspire people to use hankies! I’ve used hankies for over 20 years. I have purchased them at thrift stores, received some from my grandmother and friends, purchased hankettes and the hankies with David Suzuki on them a few years ago. Within the past year started sewing them and giving them away in a tissue box purchased from the dollar store. I so believe in saving the trees and not blowing my nose in them!

Jan 08, 2014
5:38 PM

Thanks for helping me with the reminders for using my hankies and encouraging kids as well. Now I will go and find some very old hand embroidered hankies to give to my grand daughter… and make some of the sanitizer… thx for all you are doing to help save our planet…one tip at a time! Cheers from the Cascade Mountains of BC, Kate

Jan 08, 2014
5:33 PM

I use a lot of kleenex with allergies, this might be great!

Jan 08, 2014
5:21 PM

I am so glad that people are taking to the things that use to be called “old fashioned”. To me old fashioned is just another term for common sense. I have been using hankies all my life. I have made dozens of them

Jan 08, 2014
5:02 PM

So, how do you clean and sanitize those hankies before reuse? I would choose to use chlorine in the wash, otherwise, I would be concerned I would pass along my germs to the next hanky user. I would probably have to wash and dry a small load of hankies once a week as we have allergies in my home. That’s a lot of energy and water.

Really, I don’t see how using hankies is any greener.

Jan 08, 2014
5:01 PM

A soft, well-worn hankie is so much easier on the nose than a piece of rough paper!

Jan 08, 2014
4:58 PM

HI Queen of Green When my mom died, one of the unexpected gifts I received when sorting through her drawers was all her beautiful hankies. Hand embroidered, monogrammed with her initials, lacey and practical, they all have very special meaning to me. I had not used hankies much before, but now I tuck clean hankies from the wash into all the pockets of my pants, coats and handbags/knapsacks — always available for the countless needs a kleenex used to fill, all with the added benefit of reminding me of my lovely mom. Thanks for the hand sanitizer recipe — wonderful! Sheila

Jan 08, 2014
4:48 PM

Why have I never considered this? Economical and earth friendly? Count me in! Now to find some fabric….

Jan 08, 2014
4:42 PM

An old bandana is a great hanky!

Jan 08, 2014
4:40 PM

Why have I never considered this? An economical and earth friendly switch, count me in! Now to find some scrap material…

Jan 08, 2014
4:19 PM

Why have I never considered this? An economical and earth friendly switch, count me in! Now to find some scrap material…

Jan 08, 2014
4:18 PM

Great idea. Love the hand sanitizer ‘recipe’

Jan 08, 2014
4:16 PM

Why have I never considered this? An economical and earth friendly switch, count me in! Now to find some scrap material…

Jan 08, 2014
3:59 PM

A brilliant idea for sanatizer! I have become increasingly leary of what is in commercial items (even sanatizers) and being able to use things around the house plus knowing exactly what goes in it and how it will affect our bodies is a triple bonus. Thank you!

Jan 08, 2014
3:53 PM

I have been using hankies for the past five years now: they also double as table napkins, snack wraps/placemats when I am on the road and cheesecloth in the kitchen.

Jan 08, 2014
3:52 PM

I made that decision many years ago, which meant that everyone in my home sorta got dragged along. I also promote hankies at the craft shows I sell at and make sure there several sizes and styles, from last-forever linen to extra-soft pullen cotton batiste. when I did use tissues, I used a sheet of newspaper folded to make a pocket, which I then clipped to a waste basket. tissues went in it, and it went into the wood stove as fire starter. gas heat now—no excuse for throw-aways!

Jan 08, 2014
3:45 PM

I have been a fan of hankies despite them being out of fashion for a long time now. They are the best thing to keep in your handbag for drying hands and cleaning kids faces. You can even clean your car windscreen in an emergency. They dont crumble in your bag and they dont make your washing look like it has been in a snowstorm. When you have a cold you dont get a chafed red nose like you do with a tissue.

Jan 08, 2014
3:33 PM

I’m hoping to make my own hankies sometime soon from some holey vintage tea towels that belonged to my great grandmother.

Jan 08, 2014
3:26 PM

I have been a fan of hankies despite them being out of fashion for a long time now. They are the best thing to keep in your handbag for drying hands and cleaning kids faces. You can even clean your car windscreen in an emergency. They dont crumble in your bag and they dont make your washing look like it has been in a snowstorm. When you have a cold you dont get a chafed red nose like you do with a tissue.

Jan 08, 2014
3:26 PM

I love my hankies and don’t go anywhere without ‘em. I’ve been using hankies for years now and buy them and make them out of old flannel jammies and sheets and things.

Jan 08, 2014
3:06 PM

I have a friend who has always used hankies and it is not only a greener way but is also less abusive on our noses. Mine is raw from all the tissues I used while getting over a cold this past week. It is time I give it a try.

Jan 08, 2014
2:52 PM

When my mother died a few years ago, she had a drawer full of beautifully embroidered hankies. She never used them once we had all been inculcated into the “hankies are bad, tissues are good” mantra spread by the medical community……or maybe the marketing of the tissue companies! Now I need to buy some or better yet WIN some!

Jan 08, 2014
2:49 PM

Hankies are also much more comfortable on that sore much-blown nose in cold season!

Jan 08, 2014
2:45 PM

I m never without mine!

Jan 08, 2014
2:41 PM

I use those daily.

Jan 08, 2014
2:37 PM

As someone with chronic allergies, I really feel bad about the amount of waste I create using tissues. I would love to try these out!

Jan 08, 2014
2:34 PM

Hankies are also much more comfortable on that sore much-blown nose in cold season!

Jan 08, 2014
2:15 PM

Definitely going to start using hankies. And love the recipe for homemade sanitizer

Jan 08, 2014
1:56 PM

What a great way to decrease waste!!!

Jan 08, 2014
1:53 PM

Great idea to kick start more eco options for home for the New Year! We already use re-usable diaper wipes for our newborn and I am going to make some hankies from the same sources — old tshirts and receiving blankets :) I’m also going to try the sanitizer recipe!

Jan 08, 2014
1:52 PM

I think making hankies is a great way to recycle cotton fabric, plus you can personalize them.

Jan 08, 2014
1:51 PM

Great idea to kick start more eco options for home for the New Year! We already use re-usable diaper wipes for our newborn and I am going to make some hankies from the same sources — old tshirts and receiving blankets :) I’m also going to try the sanitizer recipe!

Jan 08, 2014
1:49 PM

I love hankies ! They are colorful, don’t fall apart and are ecofriendly. I actually bought a cloth napkin and cut it into four pieces for four New hankies. : ) The hand sanitizer recipe sounds great. I will be whipping up some asap. Thanks for sharing this.

Jan 08, 2014
1:44 PM

68 y.o. male who has been carrying (and using for a number of purposes) hankies for 63 yrs. since starting school wishes to thank you for your NEW acceptance of a habit which has been out of favour for some time. Thanks for the hand sanitizer recipe, altho I expect to have other destinations for the vodka component. Keep up the fine work. Small battles, small mentorings, small progress ——with huge environmentally positive effects.

Jan 08, 2014
1:30 PM

Great to have the recipe for the hand sanitizer. And I’ve got several friends who use hankies — I should be among them, I know ! This flu/horrible cold season is the push I need.

Jan 08, 2014
1:24 PM

Mark’s Work Warehouse (L’Equipeur) sells handkerchiefs — a crate of cotton! They are useful for all sorts of things If you like to personalize your hankies, you can dig out your embroidery thread. :)

Jan 08, 2014
1:21 PM

I love my hankies and don’t go anywhere without ‘em. I’ve been using hankies for years now and buy them and make them out of old flannel jammies and sheets and things.

Jan 08, 2014
1:18 PM

This is a great idea, I never thought to buy hankies and I’m glad that you have shared the names of companies that make/sell them (I didn’t think anyone did anymore). Bye Bye tissues!

Jan 08, 2014
1:15 PM

My mother used hankies all her life . She always said hankies were better than tissues . When she died I brought her collection of hankies home and discovered mother knew best . Plus if you forget a hanky in a pocket and it goes through the wash , you don’t end up with little white bits all over your black slacks

Jan 08, 2014
1:10 PM

I’ve thought about using hankies. Just haven’t made the jump yet. Now I know what to do with those old t-shirts!

Jan 08, 2014
1:01 PM

I’m already a big hanky fan, but the recipe for hand sanitizer is BRILLIANT! I’ve always felt vaguely “naughty” buying the stuff, but there are just some times you can’t wash your hands. Now I can clean my hands, guilt free! Thanks!

Jan 08, 2014
1:00 PM

My dad always used a hanky. I was in charge of ironing them and folding them, just so he could squish it into his pocket! I would love to renew the use of hankies in my household!

Jan 08, 2014
12:44 PM

I still have the hankies I had when I was a kid. I grew up in the 50’s and we all had hankies. I know my Mom washed them separately from other clothes and soaked them first but I don’t know what she put in the soaking water. Could it have been salt? Please give some ideas for how to wash them?

Jan 07, 2014
6:39 PM

I was actually thinking about this today, such a coincidence! I’ve had a cold for the past week, and the amount of tissues in my trash is ridiculous. I could really use some hankies right about now!

Jan 07, 2014
11:08 AM

I’m making the switch! I was just trying to figure out what to do with some extra material at home. I’ll make some of my own! No more tissues in my house. Now, do you have any tips on how to train your family to use them?

Jan 07, 2014
6:31 AM

Great suggestion! I have also found a good alternative top toilet paper: ordinary peat moss. We live in the country and use an outhouse year-round (and we have chamber pots in our bedrooms at night) so it’s no problem. I don’t even miss toilet paper.

Jan 05, 2014
9:03 PM

I’ve got my one old faithful hanky! What I keep considering is ways to eliminate toilet paper.. Is there an hygienic way to do this? Bidet anyone?

Jan 03, 2014
5:47 AM

I’m really going to try to make this switch (and ask my friends and family to switch as well). So many helpful tips. The little things all add up!

Jan 02, 2014
2:04 PM

Great ideas! I love the sanitizer recipe, I have been making my own cosmetics and cleaning products for over a year now, but I’ve never tried diy sanitizer. will definitively give it as try!

Jan 02, 2014
5:05 AM

I read this here and hand to look it ip again for the links and recipes. Thanks. We used them on camping trips. They also, feel more comfortable on your nose. And you get less red. On another note when camping on a 30 day trip with a well known wilderness ed org we females used pee rags. Haha. They showed us how. After you use it you rinse it in the lake etc and lay it out on the boat to dry. It made sense out there. Didnt have to dig for the paper in the dry bag (on a canoe trip). And it conserved paper for the other thing. And someone said about needing to iron? Hanging on a line to dry might make that less necessary.

Dec 31, 2013
9:15 AM

This is a great blog entry that reminds us that simple changes can make an impact on personal waste reduction efforts. Thanks Lindsay.

Dec 27, 2013
3:24 PM

I wish I can win a box for my son and girl. First I need to confess that I do bought the tissue box quite often, it is very convenient. Especially when my kids are having runny nose. I don’t want them to share their face-cloth but then they accidentally use the other’s one. If I need to make a change, I will try your hand sanitizer recipe for my first step! Then, try to minimize the usage for the tissue, if still have runny nose problem, may be the old t-shirt helps too! Just cut it in to small pieces and it soft and add some trim to make them feel prettier.

Dec 24, 2013
2:35 PM

@Graeme Knight Hydrogen peroxide is not very stable in solutions with other organic hydrocarbon compounds, it is such a strong oxidizer that it wants to strip almost any hydrogen from other stuff. I’d suggest isopropyl alcohol. As it is highly toxic to drink, it should not be banned like Vodka, or edible grain alcohol would be.

Dec 24, 2013
2:23 PM

For more in-depth look at why facial tissues blow, check out this gal’s blog also: http://greengroundswell.com/paper-facial-tissue-history-and-environmental-impact/2013/12/05/

Dec 22, 2013
2:25 AM

Hello, Great site and suggestions. Do youhave an alternative to rubbing alcohol? I live in a Arabian Gulf country and rubbing alcohol, like any other, is pretty hard to come by. What about hydrogen peroxide?

Dec 21, 2013
12:08 PM

I started using hankies at my wedding! I knew there’d be tears and tissues just don’t go far…who wants to hold a soggy tissue at their wedding? Hankies are up to the challenge and can handle wedding tears, much classier, much less wasteful, less costly and nice and soft! Been using hankies ever since.

Dec 20, 2013
6:35 PM

I started using hankies when my kids were babies which was only 6 years ago. When my oldest first got sick and had a runny nose I just thought to myself tissues are hard on my nose let alone a babies nose. I started using baby face cloths which seemed to do a better job and absolutely no crying afterwards. Like mentioned in the blog above the key thing is so you don’t spread germs is to wash your hands.

Dec 19, 2013
12:35 PM

I’ve recently brought out my Nana’s hankies. There are lovely handmade hankies that deserve to be used! I’m going to try out the handmade hand cleaner recipe to keep in my bag. Thanks!

Dec 19, 2013
10:46 AM

Wow, great tips! I’ll be using the recipe for sure, and have put in an order for some hankies from hankettes. Great websites! Thanks so much for all the info!

Shannon

Dec 19, 2013
7:16 AM

I love the hand sani recipe!

Dec 18, 2013
4:24 PM

I compost my food scraps, make purchases that have minimum packaging, and reuse or recycle whenever possible

Dec 18, 2013
2:23 PM

can you explain further why we should avoid facial tissue?

Dec 18, 2013
1:32 PM

I just posted this to FaceBook before I realised I could actually win something: I have thought for years that killing trees to blow your nose was really wasteful. Glad that David Suzuki is onboard because he (let’s face it) carries a lot more weight than I do. I have an extensive collection of bandanna handkerchiefs and always have one with me. Advantages: 1 — Save the trees 2 — You always have something to mop your face with 3 — or cover your head from the sun 4 — or use as a potholder 5 — or wipe the snow/rain from your picnic table 6 — or dry your daughter’s tears 7 — or wipe the grease from your hands after spending quality time under your VW bus 8 — or use as an impromptu towel after that spontaneous skinny dip that you really can’t tell the kids about 9 — go out and buy a bunch of ‘hankies’ now

I use bandanna handkerchiefs because they are larger, more useful and funkier than the standard white ones I was raised on. I have a bandanna from my grandfather that I still use. and love. Over the last 20 years I have collected bandannas over the course of travels over the US and Canada. Different ones are hard to find — most are a sort of standard paisley print in 3 or 4 standard colours. I now have a collection of about 50 unique bandannas that are all regularly applied to my nose and to the many other uses they excel at. Save a tree use a hankie!!!

Dec 18, 2013
1:12 PM

Good news!!! Charity shops can be a good source. The only thing is that they are best ironed and I gave up ironing years ago.

Dec 18, 2013
8:36 AM

Thank you for the homemade hand sanitizer recipe! I didn’t know you could make your own, and it’s something I’m going to make for the new year!

Dec 18, 2013
8:29 AM

Brilliant! I’ve been thinking about making the switch and this seals the deal. And thanks for the hand sanitizer recipe. A great bonus.

Dec 18, 2013
7:24 AM

I love hankies! While living in Europe I found them to be far more common than tissues, and they were GORGEOUS! There’s something a little refined about a ‘hanky’

Dec 18, 2013
6:24 AM

As someone who strives to be environmentally conscious, I would love to win these hankies!

Dec 18, 2013
5:52 AM

One New Years resolution I made a 4-5 years ago was to go paper towel free. It’s been incredibly successful. I never thought of tissues! I think I have a resolution lined up for 2014! Thanks for the inspiration :)

Dec 18, 2013
4:11 AM

I’ve thought about making the switch to hankies over the years and I did buy this book style hankie however I don’t love the book version. I admit it has come in handy on occasion but I think I will make the switch to single sheet hankies.

Dec 18, 2013
1:26 AM

Great ideas! I’ve been wondering what to make with some of my smaller fabric remnants.

Dec 17, 2013
11:55 PM

Y’know, I never thought to use a hankie until reading this! Love the idea and love the homemade sanitizer…especially know what goes in it! I’ll definitely look into adapting to the hankie user lifestyle.

Dec 17, 2013
11:15 PM

I used to use bandanas all the time! This artical reminds me and I’m now going to get them out and start using them again! Yay, down with packaging and waste!!

Dec 17, 2013
10:05 PM

Breaking out the sewing machine :) thanks for the sanitizer recipe! My favorite hankies are the ones I kidnapped from my grandmother!

Dec 17, 2013
8:59 PM

My wife got me a great classic looking hanky with an axe on it from Halifax last summer. It’s too nice and crisp to want to wrikle up and blow snot on! Plus, I worry about germs and the discomfort of having bunched up cloth in my pocket. Next time I have a snot nose though I am making the switch. Gave up smoking so, the corn cob pipe is gone. Maybe my road to being a 31 year old geezer has yet to end.

Dec 17, 2013
8:05 PM

I love your hand sanitizer recipe here, as I keep on suggesting to folks who use the commercial ones to stop using them, due to the toxic chemicals in them. I will definitely make this for my mother, who continues to use the commercial sanitizers.
I’d love to get some hankies actually. I currently use toilet paper to blow my nose, as I refuse to buy any type of kleenex, paper towels, or paper napkins. I have many allergies year round, so I probably use way too much toilet paper for the nose blowing….
Thanks so much for all the household cleaning recipes for laundry soap, tile cleaner, all purpose cleaner, etc. I have made them all and encourage others to do the same, to cut down on chemicals both in my house and in the environment in general.

Dec 17, 2013
7:27 PM

Started using them when my son was tiny, so much softer on teeny noses! Would love to have more to stuff in all our pockets. If it’s easy to find then you’ll always want to use one.

Dec 17, 2013
7:18 PM

I have slowly been trying to switch to hankies after travelling to Cuba! It was impossible to find toilet paper to wipe your bottom (you had to pay for it by the square usually) never-mind tissues paper, and I had a terrible cold. One of the locals was carrying around a stack of hankies (he had a cold too…probably the one I caught it from!) and it just made sense. There is such a stigma nowadays surrounding it being “dirty” and “gross” though :(

Dec 17, 2013
6:48 PM

My mom has carried around cloth hankies for as long as I can remember…I never really converted over but this is a good reminder to give it a try and another good way to decrease my footprint! :) Thanks for the article and the home made hand sanitizer recipe!

Dec 17, 2013
6:47 PM

I already use scrap material to make cotton hanker-sniffs as i call them for my 93 -almost 94 year old mother. This helps her get less dust in her eyes than when she uses toilet paper or tissues and also helps the environment. I make the hankies in feminine material so when they go to the central laundry in the seniors complex they will not be mistaken for men’s hankies plus i write her name in indelible markers on the hemmed side so they have less chance of getting lost!

Dec 17, 2013
6:07 PM

Well I’ve been a proponent if the hankie for years. My dad taught me that a well dressed man alway carries a wallet watch pocketknife and a clean pressed hankie at all times.

Dec 17, 2013
5:50 PM

I have had an endlessly runny nose since childhood! Diagnosed by an Ear-Nose-Throat specialist as a ‘chronic nasal drip’ this means thousands and thousands of tissues that I have used in my short lifetime. This is both expensive and also a huge impact on the environment. I’m excited to try out using a hanky, and equally as excited to use the homemade hand sanitizer recipe. Thanks for the info!

Dec 17, 2013
5:50 PM

I don’t know why I haven’t made the switch yet!

2014 is the year to do that!

Thank’s for the reminder!

And you can make sure that if we win the set, it will be usefull in this house with my 3 sons!

:-)

Dec 17, 2013
5:40 PM

I’m a ridiculously frequent nose-blower, and I feel like I’m constantly buying those little packs of Kleenex to keep in my bag. A hanky makes more sense though, think I’m gonna look for some. Thanks again for another useful tip :)

Dec 17, 2013
5:39 PM

Keep up the good work! I’ve been using hankies for 17 years. A good friends father always had one and it just made sense. People are always stunned when I use one. My 2 year old daughter loves to use a hanky when she has a runny nose or ( boogers) as she calls it. She even carries one in her pocket. Thanks

Dec 17, 2013
5:28 PM

I didn’t know what to do with a few old socks, couldn’t wear them anymore, too many holes. Cut them on the length, got myself some homemade hankies! Since the socks are old, they’re confortable on my nose!

Dec 17, 2013
5:08 PM

As someone with a drippy nose and dry skin all winter long, this sounds like something worth getting into…

Dec 17, 2013
4:34 PM

This is great. Look to the past! Suzuki for Prime Minister!

Dec 17, 2013
4:27 PM

Aren’t you bringing all those germs/viruses back up to your face each time you re-use the hankie?

Dec 17, 2013
4:25 PM

I’ve used hankies before and then sort of gave them up. I’m going to find them and put them back to work. Plus thanks for the handsanitizer recipe, I have sqeeze bottles left over from sanitizer I bought.

Dec 17, 2013
4:22 PM

I think this is a great idea! I have a hankie that was my grandma’s, which I use from time to time, but I need to add to my collection!

Dec 17, 2013
4:20 PM

I had my grade 3/4 class make their own set of hankies at the beginning of this year as a sewing project and prep for winter colds. All of them use them and love them and I go through much less tissue in the classroom.

Dec 17, 2013
4:18 PM

I have old sheets set aside to be made into hankies, but I haven’t gotten the sewing machine out yet. Maybe getting into the habit of using some premade ones would motivate me.

Dec 17, 2013
4:16 PM

As a mom who typically carries a pocket sized pack of tissues this time of year everywhere I go, I am inspired to switch out for cotton hankies. Any suggestions about what the best cotton would be for these?

Dec 17, 2013
4:15 PM

I grew up with European parents and grandparents. I thought hankies were disgusting. However, as my “greening” continues, I found myself indeed asking my Mom for her extra ones (some brand new) and used my old pillow case to make a batch. I hardly ever use tissues any longer and feel great about my choice!

Everything old is new again…

Dec 17, 2013
4:13 PM

My 26 year old autistic son has always preferred hankies over tissues but was forbidden to use hankies when he was in school.

Dec 17, 2013
4:12 PM

What a relief to find like-minded folks with the same feelings about facial tissues. In my household its either toilet paper or cotton hankerchiefs. I inherited some lovelies from my Grandmother who must have been a collector as about 20 were passed down from her. Easy to wash, they go into the washer w/ other cottons — goodbye #facialtissues forever!

Dec 17, 2013
2:06 PM

In May my family and I embarked on a waste reduction challenge….saving and analyzing our garbage and recyclables and seeing how we can reduce it. We had lots of tissue in our garbage….so decided to switch over to hankies. And happy we did — for the environment but have also saved $$$ by not purchasing tissue. Our investment in fabric for our hankies has been repaid .

PS — they also remind me of my Dad I asked him once, “why hankies”….he was not the most environmentally conscious…..he responded, “Habit”. His Dad used them and he did too. (I have some of his hankies that I now use

Dec 17, 2013
12:33 PM

I don’t like paper tissues for many reasons and I don’t like the “just throw it away” attitude/lifestyle today. I have my hankie with me every day, I’m lost without it!! they are so handy to wipe tears and dirty faces, lol :) The Hankie used to be the number one Christmas present in my family, way ahead of socks, lol. Everybody had some, some plain everyday ones and the pretty monogrammed, embroidered ones for nice. :)

Dec 17, 2013
10:43 AM

Especially excited by the hand sanitizer recipe!

Dec 17, 2013
9:25 AM

Hankies were always on my Dad’s Christmas list for me to get and I still have them with the initial G.I remember him using them and he always used to say excuse me after he blew his nose. He has been gone twenty-one years but I always feel him when I see his hankies. I think I should pass a few along to our son. Thank-you for refreshing a great memory. Best regards and Merry Christmas, E. Heath

Dec 17, 2013
7:15 AM

Interesting post! Id consider the switch if i came across some hankies in a store i think! Worth a try anyway!

Dec 17, 2013
4:39 AM

Love using hankies and discovered this after inheriting my grandfathers collection. They were perfectly cleaned and ironed. Perfect for traveling and come in handy for things even beyond blowing your nose. I never leave home without one tucked in my purse or pocket.

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