In the process of trying to eliminate single-use plastics from our lives, we’re becoming more aware of packaging in general, and of the disposable culture we’re living in. As a hayfever sufferer who’s also prone to sinus infections, I used to get through a lot of tissues. And, usually, I bought the handy little plastic-wrapped packs, convenient for carting around in a handbag or pocket.

Of course, it’s possible to buy tissues in cardboard boxes – and there are ethical companies selling recycled and bamboo versions. But I’m starting to dislike the whole concept of ‘single-use’ and – where possible – to invest in something that will last me years.

So, last October, I bought a pack of five plain white handkerchiefs from a market in Provençe. We were visiting my parents, so – mum being mum – by the time I left France, they were embroidered with my name. When I realised I needed more – and that Phil could do with some too – I blagged some scraps of fabric from my mum (it definitely helps to have a dressmaker in the family). She hemmed them for us too, as we don’t have a sewing machine and doing it by hand would take ages.

They’re great: we’ve both noticed that they’re kinder to our skin than tissues, so we don’t get sore, flaky noses and upper lips. As for cleaning them, if they’ve just been used for a bit of hayfever drippage, we toss them in the 30° wash with everything else. If we’ve had a cold or a sinus infection, we rinse them in cold water, steep them in boiling water and then chuck them in the wash. That sounds like a faff, but it doesn’t take long.

I love my handkerchiefs.


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