2 Nov 2015
a small change: handkerchiefs
The sky is grey and the air thick with moisture. The gum trees outside my window have frothy streams running down their thick trunks; good, soaking rain as my Mum would call it. But after the rising temperatures of last week and the subsequent removal of flannelette sheets and woollen blankets off the beds, we've been caught off guard. There's socks on my feet and a light scarf about my neck come dusk as I try to shake off a persistent runny nose. All my babies have succumbed so there is much broth sipping, eucalyptus balm rubbing, on the lounge cuddling, and nose wiping.
Lately in our bid to live a waste-less life, we've done away with the box of tissues and replaced them with cotton handkerchiefs. Patterned, lacy, embroidered and most importantly, re-usable. In the handkerchiefs vs. tissues battle there is much to support that the humble cotton hankie is a more environmentally friendly alternative for catching sneezes. Tissue production requires more water, more energy and the landfill impact is considerable. And sadly, the majority of the tissues on the market are still made by using freshly cut trees.
I started by rummaging through my underwear drawer and with my Grandmother's words in my ears, "A lady should always carry a white handkerchief", I found a few delicate, lace edged squares of her vintage- white of course. Next, I scoured my local op shops for pretty cast offs (they are often put with the doilies and embroidered ephemera of years gone by) and over a few weeks amassed a substantial collection; time worn and butter soft. Housed in a natural bolga basket, they can be transported from the linen cupboard to the bathroom bench should sniffles come calling.
And unlike the snotty tissues that seem to multiply around the house when everyone is sick, a used hanky goes straight into the washing hamper ready for a cold machine cycle and line drying in the sun. Hanging them out and folding them when they're dry is a lovely job for little helping hands too.
A small change: cotton handkerchiefs.