The Humble Handkerchief

The Humble Handkerchief

Ah fall. Cold weather is coming – and so is Waste Reduction Week. But also ‘colds’ are coming. Nothing heralds the return of cold and flu season like the return to school. In my kid’s school supplies I am required to provide two boxes of disposable facial tissues. I have complied with the rules, but it certainly reminded me how we just don’t use them at home anymore; we use handkerchiefs instead.

In a country where handkerchiefs are no longer the norm, here’s how I got converted. I got a LOT of colds in high school and university. I used to go through an inordinate amount of tissues during a cold, and my nose would get painfully raw. Until I switched to handkerchiefs, that is. It was a big relief for me because my nose stopped getting so raw from the fibers in the paper tissues. I wish I could say it was my idea to switch, but I have to give my mom the credit on this one.

Over time I collected enough bandanas and little hankies that I could have one in the pocket of each jacket and a freshly washed stash at home. It was easy enough to throw my used hankies in with the laundry after use and replace them with clean ones.

This meant no more buying boxes of tissues just to have to go get more. No more wastebaskets filled with single use tissues. And the other bonus? They didn’t disintegrate into powder if you forgot one in your pocket for a long time or turn into mush if you washed them in a pocket by accident!

When I got married I came with a dowry of handkerchiefs. And because my family is amazing, and adaptable, and wouldn’t dare NOT to do what I “suggest” they all use handkerchiefs too. There is a big stash in our room, so when someone needs one we get it out, and toss it in the laundry when we’re done.

What do you think? Are handkerchiefs just glorified snot rags that only older generations (or cool people like me) are carrying around? Or are they a re-emerging trend away from disposables? Have you tried both and noticed any differences for yourself? Join the conversation below.