By Bernadette Thomas

    I have an admission to make. I never leave the house without a hankie. Going to the shops, for a walk, to work, out for a drink, to empty the compost, wherever I go I always make sure I have a hankie with me. I come from a long line of hankie users, my parents and grandparents were prolific users, and my partner shares my hankie passion too. Growing up in my house included the regular refrain – “don’t forget your hankie!”

    We’ve got a huge stack of hankies at our place, that live in a special leather bag. We share hankies – man size (which always come in man suitable dark blues and greens, or checks), pretty lady style hankies (much smaller and with bright colours and patterns), and even some kid size hankies (complete with cartoon designs of every kind). I buy them from op shops, receive them as Christmas gifts; some of my favourites have been rescued from the footpath (they’re OK to use after a machine wash) and added to my collection. When my grandmother was alive, she would crochet the edges of hankies and give them to me as gifts – these are among some of my most treasured possessions. My obsession with the hankie isn’t all down to nasal issues. Rather it’s a recognition of the incredible usefulness of the humble hankie.

    A hankie is a valuable resource. It can be used for anything from blowing your nose (well der), wiping your hands, mopping up spills, as a clean seat, a head shade, a bib, and, if you just add water, can even replace expensive baby wipes. Investing in a set of hankies will reduce your need to buy an entire range of disposal items – paper towel, serviette, baby wipes – reducing your impact on the environment and saving you money.

    Hankies are one of those rare items that keep on giving. Unlike a paper tissue or towel, which are single use, you can use your hankie continuously and for many years before it is no longer useful. The alternatives are made from paper and are designed to be thrown away – along with the wood, water, energy, plastic, oils and fragrances used to make and package them. As a durable item your hankie is made to last, and when it gets to the end of its life, you can add it to your compost, where it will break down with your food scraps (just check that it’s 100% cotton).

    Hankies also provide you with a chance to do some DIY – yes, you can make your own personalised hankies with some 100% cotton fabric and a sewing machine or needle and thread (for an even more enviro friendly hankie, buy the fabric from the op shop). In no time you’ll have a stack of ready to use versatile hankies for any occasion. And once you’ve made them you can say goodbye to piles of tissues in your garbage.

    So if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of using a hankie, do yourself a favour. Drop in to your favourite op shop or hankie store and buy a couple; in no time I guarantee you’ll be hooked just like me.

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