Handkerchiefs vs. Paper tissues :Make a greener choice today!

Whether it is about blowing your nose or wiping away sweat, paper tissues have always been a preferred choice for the youth of today. These are the main reasons for landfills today. Paper towels, paper cups and several other one-time use throwaway materials have not escaped the unfortunate ultimate trap in rising landfills.

Whatever happened to the older greener virtue of using handkerchiefs? Handkerchief use was common among our great grandparents and grandparents. The elegantly dainty, checked and sometimes the gingham style of cotton handkerchiefs, that could handle any amount of dirt and would be eventually washed to look brand new. This is no more the case now. Everyday prefers to use paper tissues as they don’t require any care and can be disposed off after use.
If you think that tissues are a modern style statement, then you are so wrong. They have their own way to get your back sooner or later.
More than 500000 tons of paper tissues are used around the globe, all of which are made from virgin fiber alone.
Why is that using cotton handkerchiefs is a greener alternative to using paper tissues?
Here, check this out:

Waste of energy:

A huge amount of energy is required to produce pulp from growing trees to manufacture virgin fiber that is essential in fabricating paper tissues,
Though the amount of energy that is required in producing handkerchiefs is literally greater than the paper tissues, yet, a single handkerchief can have a prolonged use of about 520 times with regular washing and drying in between. This eventually reduces to the fact that a cotton handkerchief requires 0.04kWh for each use and a paper tissue which is used only for a single time requires a 0.013kWh. This means that you can use a single handkerchief for around 520 times but a paper tissue which needs 0.04KwH of energy can be used only once. Moreover, the energy that is required in producing virgin fiber tissues is nearly three times more than the production of cotton handkerchiefs.

Waste of water:
When you read this, you instantly think that in the process of washing handkerchiefs, you ostensibly waste a lot more water when compared to paper tissues which use none. Well, this is not true. It is estimated that a cotton handkerchief uses nearly four and half times less water when compared to the fabrication of paper tissues. Did you know that one paper tissue needs 2.2l of water for its production? Astounding, isn’t it? You must have never thought about this when you kept stacking tissue packets at home.
Now again, the manufacture of cotton handkerchiefs does need around 165l of water. But, each one of them can be used about 520 times. So that leaves us with the fact that each hanky requires about 0.3l per use including the water required for washing. Thus, again the cotton handkerchiefs are a greener option when it comes to your water footprint!


Did you know that a paper tissue cannot be recycled? Unlike the office paper which goes to the recycling plant where it can recycled, the handy paper tissue eventually travel towards the growing landfills. A virgin fiber tissue after a single use produces about 1.3g of waste that goes to landfills. Moreover, you hardly find any tissues made of recycled paper in the market because they can’t be made soft enough for one-time personal use. Hence, the ones that are available in the market are actually made from virgin fiber and un-recyclable.
Alright, even a cotton handkerchief does have its own share of waste. But, this is nearly 26 times less than the paper tissue. This is because, one cotton hanky accounts for only 0.05g of waste only after 520 uses. Yet again, the cotton handkerchief wins over a paper tissue

Start your eco-friendly habits:

By using the paper tissues in an eco-friendly manner, you can save around one and half live trees, annually. Moreover, you can even reduce the toxic pulp bleaching that is done on them.
Here are few steps to follow:
1) Use only the paper that you need. Don’t use unnecessarily.
2) Whether it’s toilet paper or paper towels or even facial tissues, use only 100% recycled ones.
3) Use hand dryers whenever necessary. You can save paper!
4) Use a single paper towel in a restaurant or the like instead of taking the entire stack to clean your hands and face. Instead you can choose to use water!


In switching over from 1 box of tissues to the normal cotton handkerchiefs, you can save a whopping 385,000 trees from being cut down for your myriad purposes. If you do find recycled paper tissues or treeless tissues then it is absolutely ok or you can any day switch to cotton handkerchiefs which can serve many purposes at a single go and be reused as well.
So, the next time you go shopping, do not hesitate to drop in your bag a set of cotton handkerchiefs to start making a difference today!


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