Simple Swaps: Tissues to Handkerchiefs & Wipes to Flannels


When I was little I always had a hanky in my pocket or up my sleeve. I remember being envious of friends who brought pocket tissues in little plastic packets to school. Once, when I was about six, a teacher offered me a tissue from a little plastic packet and I didn’t use it. I just held it in my hand and stroked it with my thumb! What a strange child!

My dad always carries a hanky in his pocket and, when we were little, it would appear from his pocket if we cried or bumped a knee. They had a certain smell, those hankies. A comforting smell of our dad, a smell of ‘everything is going to be fine’, so much so that my sister and I would pack one to take on guide camps or school trips. I even pinned one inside my wedding dress as my ‘something borrowed’. On the occasions when we’re with my dad and one of our children needs a tissue, if my dad takes his hanky from his pocket, I have an overwhelming urge to grab it from him so that I can smell it. Maybe that strange child never stopped being strange!

As part of my zero waste journey, I’ve decided to swap pocket tissues for handkerchiefs. When I read this on someone’s blog the other day, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it sooner. I went to Boyes and was really pleased to find hankies for sale singly for between 40-80p, not in any packaging at all. Perfect! I bought a selection of ladies’ and men’s handkerchiefs and they can just be washed with the towels and tea towels. Even my eldest child is on board with this swap. She’s earmarked the blue flowery one as hers.

My mum, for as long as I can remember, has carried a wet flannel in a plastic bag in her handbag when out for the day or on long journeys. It comes in handy for all kinds of things; wiping hands, spot cleaning stains off clothes, freshening up on public transport. I followed suit when I had children, especially when they started eating solid food. I always put one in the cool bag for days at the beach or picnics. It’s saved a fortune on wipes, it feels a lot nicer and doesn’t leave that lingering ‘baby wipe smell’ behind either.

There are a few companies now that sell reuseable baby wipes. Cheeky Wipes is one that springs instantly to mind. If you decide to use them for nappy changes too and you’re already using cloth nappies, they can just be added to the nappy wash. If you’re not ready to make the switch to cloth nappies as well, then reuseable wipes can be rinsed and then washed with towels.

Two small swaps, I know, but really easy. Why don’t you give it a go and let me know how you get on? What are your favourite simple swaps in changing to a plastic free or zero waste lifestyle?


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