Sunday, January 24, 2010

My little hankies

Lately, I've been trying to be more mindful about what I consume (purchase, eat, watch, read). When I notice that something I'm consuming doesn't match up with my values, I try to make small steps towards alignment. Sometimes, because of lack of resources or lack of imagination, I have to compromise my ideals a bit. Sometimes I'm lazy and change is too daunting. I have to remind myself that I'm still learning and growing and realizing who I want to be.
I decided a few months ago to stop buying paper towels. We use lovely cloth napkins now (which I purchased for mere pennies at the thrift store...and can now sew my own too), and I'm very pleased with them. I'm happy to not be contributing to the depletion of trees so that I can casually wipe my mouth and toss. Disposable bothers me. Occassionally, Michael and I will want to clean something with a paper towel, or cover food in the microwave, but we have learned alternatives to reaching for paper. This is a good thing in my mind. We are learning to challenge the way we've been doing things, and to think about how the small gestures we make affect others.
So I had another realization just last week: Good Lord! Look at all the tissues we use/dispose of!
With winter's presence comes constantly runny noses. Not from being sick even. Just coming in from the cold and drip drip drip. I read somewhere that each blow costs about $.20...(get your mind out of the gutter!). That's not incredibly expensive, but it adds up. Count how many noses are in your household, think of how many sneezes, blows are performed by each nose in any given allergy season. Go ahead and do the math. Math makes my head hurt. I didn't do the math since I was more concerned about the trees we were using to make those tissues to wipe our dear noses. But I get the impression that tissues aren't too frugal. 
Whatever did people do before the onset of all of these disposable paper products?
That's what they did...and if it was good enough for them, it's good enough for me.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find any hankies at the thrift store. In fact, I had trouble finding them new. Target had one package of six plain white men's handkerchiefs for about $5. Those are the kind that men tuck into their suits. Instead of purchasing them, I made my own dang hankies!
My first experimental handkies were made out of an old ill-fitting skirt that has been in my "donate" pile of clothes, but I've loved the pattern of the fabric so much that I couldn't give it up. So I cut it into 8 by 8 squares and sewed around the edges to prevent fraying. They are cute, and they work like a charm. I feel very Victorian and dainty using them.
Next, I used some fabric scraps that my Aunt Beth sent me to sew some adorable dinosaur and pumpkin patch print hankies for Noah. 

Of course, handkerchiefs need to be washed, so there is energy and water and detergent used to clean them. And they will need to be washed fairly regularly to remain sanitary. I'll try the handkerchief method out an see if I notice it to be as much of a wasteful endeavor as tissues. I'll keep you posted with my discoveries.
I'd love to hear about your experiences trying out non-disposable items in your life...and how far you are willing to go...I can't fathom what to do about toliet paper!


Vegan Good Life said...

I so agree about small steps and thinking back to what our grandparents did. Not everyone can buy a hybrid, but everyone can take baby steps, and often it will save money. The hankies you fashioned are adorable!

I found new kitchen washcloths at my thrift shop for patting down produce, and use paper towels sparingly like you. I buy the Trader Joe's recycled paper toilet tissue, tissues and towels. Greenpeace issued a guide for this since as you implied, toilet tissue is hard to work-around!

MaddyG said...

Thanks for the link, Vegan Good Life! I've been using Marcal toliet I see I must switch to Seventh Generation (available around here). I'd love to be in the vicinity of a Trader Joe's, dang it! I used to live in Southern CA, and miss my old neighborhood Trader Joe's.
And thanks for reading and commenting. I lurk around on your fantastic blog often but don't comment quite enough! ; )

Anonymous said...

quite interesting article. I would love to follow you on twitter.

Gray Sea

Gray Sea