Simple Swap: Handkerchiefs

Switch to handkerchiefs for an easy zero waste, sustainable alternative to tissues | Litterless

These are the days when the cool crisp air is still welcome and refreshing. I am trying to savor it, to notice the leaves turning gold, to embrace the chilly nights - remembering how much I longed for this season when the hot days seemed endless and stifling. Apples mingle with summer stone fruits at the farmers' market - this is the in-between time, and it's sweet.

Somehow, though, a few of my coworkers have developed head colds, and talk of flu shots is starting to swirl around the office (how can that be, already?). So, my tip today is one that you might turn to often in the months to come: how to make tissues zero waste.

I switched over to handkerchiefs a few years ago, and if you have any misgivings about them, I'm here to dispel them. I love using them. They don't chafe your nose as much as tissues do, the cheery patterns are fun to choose each day, and I can use a clean one as a napkin or hand towel in a pinch. There's nothing about tissues that I miss: the pile of dirty ones that forms a mountain in the trashcan as the day wears on, heading to the store to buy a new box, placing a box in every room. That all sounds like a hassle, not to mention more wasteful.

Now, down to the particulars: no need to buy these, anything will do! I make my own by hemming squares of cotton (the gingham one shown came from a scarf that I never wore). You could also use bandannas, thin napkins, or even unhemmed squares of fabric that perhaps you have stashed in a cabinet somewhere.

Worried about hygiene? Don't be. I use a new one every day (or several times a day when I'm sick). Just throw them in with the rest of your laundry, wash in hot water, and boom. Done. Reusable tissues.