Paper accounts for 40% of all waste in the United States, contributing to some 71.6 million tons a year to landfills, where they take ages to disintegrate.
The average American uses a whopping 141 rolls of tissue per capita a year, or 12.7 kg. New Zealand isn’t far behind, with each person using about 10.5 kilograms a year.
The paper and pulp industry is one of the most significant emitters of greenhouse gases and a major contributor to deforestation.
Deforestation is leading to a loss of wildlife habitat, displacing thousands of species. Paper manufacturing has been sadly credited with taking up 40% of the global wood supply.
Each year, 8,000,000 trees are cut down to produce facial tissues for the United States alone.
In addition, it takes three times more energy to produce paper tissues compared to reusable tissues.
The manufacturing process of tissues releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, further exacerbating global warming and directly impacting climate change.
However, the outcome isn’t all bleak. Many of us are now seeking to reduce our carbon footprint and become more responsible consumers.
As the seasons change, autumn comes the time for allergies, sinus infections, and the flu.
We all know the feeling of sniffling miserably in bed with a mountain-sized pile of used tissue papers.
While we can’t stop our noses from running away from us, we can change how we deal with it.
If you, like us, are on a journey to reduce your carbon footprint and take steps towards a zero-waste lifestyle, a few easy swaps can be made to avoid single-use items and go towards a more sustainable future.
1. Use A Handkerchief
What happened to the good ol’ days of the ever-present handkerchief? Not so long ago, there was a time when there was a handkerchief in every pocket or bag.
Versatile, reusable, and washable, it was not only a practical companion to daily life, but it also served as an easy way to accessorise clothes and add colour to your outfits.
The invention of Kleenex in the 1920s and explosive popularity growth in the coming decades started to change this.
While it never entirely went away, the handkerchief began to play a lesser role in our everyday lives.
There’s never been a better time to switch over from wasteful single-use tissues to luxuriously soft handkerchiefs that you can use for years to come.2. LastTissue
LastTissue is the perfect blend of the on-the-go availability of a pocket tissue with an environmentally-friendly reusable handkerchief packed in a dishwasher-safe silicone carrying case.
LastTissue uses GOTS certified organic cotton for the six tissues in each case. The Global Organic Textile Standard or GOTS is a leading worldwide textile certification that evaluates ecological and social criteria across the entire supply chain.
It ensures environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing and post-production labeling to guarantee honesty to the end consumer.
LastTissue edges are made with rolled hems to optimise durability and can be washed up to 520 times at 60°C.
With one LastTissue pack, you’ll save more than 3,100 single-use tissues in addition to their plastic packaging.
Prices start at NZ$35, and you can order them shipped nationwide across New Zealand here.3. Make Your Own Reusable Tissues
Take an old linen or cotton t-shirt or any piece of fabric destined for a landfill and cut it into squares about the size of a normal tissue.
Stuff them in a jar or any container, and add natural decongestants like essential oils, lemon, or peppermint.
Place the jar anywhere that allows easy access, like a bedside table, bathroom, or coffee table for when those sinuses act up.
Keep reusing them until they fall apart. To prolong the lifespan of these homemade tissues, hem them up along the sides to minimize fraying, and they’ll keep your nose happy for years to come.
Fabric is naturally less drying than paper and will be gentler on the skin and nose when heavily used. No more chapped skin and glowing red noses!
4. Blow Your Nose In The Sink
By now, we’ve all gotten into the habit of scrubbing our hands clean.
Whenever possible and especially at home, charge off to the bathroom if you feel a case of the sneezies coming.
Although it takes a while to get used to, you can blow your nose into your hand and immediately wash it after.
It gets rid of germs much more efficiently than having a bunch of old tissues lying around on the table or in the trash.
Use antibacterial hand soap to minimize the spread of germs, and of course, wash your hands after each blow.
Of course, this isn’t socially acceptable to do when you’re out. However, when you get knocked out by a bad flu or allergy hit, the chances are you’d be at home.
You can then easily use water to clean your snot instead of disposable tissues.
5. Use Bamboo Tissues
Bamboo is technically a grass and one of the fastest-growing crops around. A new bamboo cane will reach its full height in only eight to ten we in eks.
Bamboo forests grow over 30 times faster than hardwood trees. Bamboo plants also absorb over 35 times more carbon dioxide and produce 30 times more oxygen than conventional trees.
After harvesting, it regenerates so rapidly that studies have shown that regular harvesting actually increases the biomass the following year.
Bamboo paper is highly absorbent, antibacterial, and hypoallergenic and is 100% biodegradable.Final Thoughts On Alternatives To Disposable Tissues
Minor, affordable tweaks are all we need to minimize and then eliminate the use of single-use products.
Together, if we as a society start to make more responsible choices, businesses will listen, and the balance will tip towards a more conscious journey towards zero waste living.
Let’s work together to slowly phase out mindless consumption and bring reusable products back in a big way!