We stopped buying tissues | Adventures in zero waste

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If you’re here, chances are you’re thinking about switching to hankies, but might not be sure where to begin. Below is my story from mass tissue-consumer to cloth wipes; I hope it helps you make your decision!

One of the grossest things about myself is that I'm allergic to a lot of things. Forget seasonal allergies. I'm talking about things that are everywhere: dust mites and artificial fragrances.

Household Responsibilities For Persistent Allergies

What does this mean for me at home?

  • I vacuum an extraordinary amount.

  • I curse the carpets in the apartment.

  • I dream about our next place which will have beautiful hardwood floors throughout.

  • I try to stick to a rigorous sheet-washing schedule that involves hot water.

  • I buy those dust mite pillow covers (and cross my fingers that they're actually working).

And in terms of artificial fragrances, I just don't use them. No candles, no perfume, no scented lotions, etc.

This is all good and relatively easy. I don't feel deprived of pretty fake scents. And my house stays pretty darn clean.

Allergies Mean I'm Consistently Disgusting

However, what does my allergies to life mean in the real world?

  • I'm always sneezing.

  • I'm always blowing my nose.

  • Always.

  • And I use a shit ton of tissues.

  • And people probably wonder why I'm sick all the time.

Sure, I could take allergy medicine and be a zombie every day. (Yeah, I've tried them all. Even the Non-Drowsy varieties make me, well, Drowsy. I'm a cheap date.)

Where does this bring me? Well, you probably guessed from the post title.

The Ultimate Tissue Consumer

I bought a lot of tissues. Like a lot. Like Target singlehandedly stocked their 3-pack of tissue boxes just for me.

Then I had Beans. And as some of you may know, babies are snot factories. A small department in Target Corporate rejoiced when I reproduced and created another allergy-ridden person.

When Beans and I moved to Pennsylvania, I made the ceremonious trip to Target to stock up on things that we always need. Giant 3-pack of family-sized tissues included.

That continued for a while. We went through tissue boxes like crazy. Tissues were always on my shopping list.

I constantly re-stocked the usual tissue box locations:

  • Work

  • Car

  • Home, including

    • Bathroom

    • Living room

    • Desk

    • Dining room table, where the box of tissues doubled as napkins

    • Bedroom

    • Beans' room

You see, it was very important that I not have to go farther than a radius of 4 feet in order to reach a box of tissues for the inevitable messy sneeze that would sneak up on me.

Tissue Consumption Made Me Think (and Made Me Poor)

Not sure where it started, but I realized I began to feel bad about every tissue I threw away. Every tissue box I deconstructed and stuck in the recycling bin, but it was still creating waste.

I began to feel bad every time I purchased my infamous 3-pack of tissue boxes. Not to mention that trying to lug bags of groceries and incidentals from Target AND a large package of tissues AND a squirmy baby isn't the easiest thing to do.

Plus, I was spending a ton of money on said tissues. And I didn't even get the luxury tissue brands.

Instagram Deep Dives For The Win

I am 86% sure this is where I got the idea to ditch the disposable tissues: I went on an Instagram deep dive earlier this year and found a post by Marley's Monsters.

It was similar to this one:

Switching to Cloth Wipes for Tissues

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It immediately got me thinking: Whoa, how much would my life change if I switched to cloth wipes?

How much less waste would I produce?

How much money would I ultimately save?

Marley's Monsters had me hooked. I bought a 32-pack of cloth wipes with the intent on using them for tissues and napkins.


I had the full intention of publishing a post right when I started using them, but I'm glad I waited. I can now attest to the fact that using cloth wipes for tissues is a great switch, and has been for several months.

I wash and sanitize the soft flannel wipes with the linens and towels in extra hot water. I pack a few fresh wipes in my bag every day.

Repurposing Baby Blankets

In fact, I ended up liking the idea of flannel cloths for tissues so much that I enlisted the help of Amy of MamaBearBabyWear on Etsy to cut and surge Beans' old flannel receiving blankets.


The purchase made me so happy. Not only am I now saving the world with my incessantly runny nose, but I also get to be reminded of when Beans was a tiny tiny tot when I use them. Plus now I never run out of wipes before the next laundry day.

What it's Really Like to Switch to Cloth Wipes

Switching to cloth wipes to replace tissues, napkins, and paper towels has been a great switch for my family. We're saving money and doing our part to help save the planet.

An even bigger bonus? Chris is also on board with using cloth wipes for tissues, napkins, and paper towels.

This is Chris. Isn't he cute? More on him later.


People will look at you funny. You're essentially going old school and using a handkerchief. Except with wipes I try to turn over to a fresh wipe more frequently than one would with a handkerchief that stays soggy in your pocket all day.

When you're entertaining and you hand out the cloth wipes instead of paper towels or napkins, you may also get more strange looks.

Hey look. I get it. It feels kinda gross and weird to blow my nose into soft pillowy flannel. It feels weird to offer someone a wipe when they ask for a tissue.

It also feels weird on the other end of the spectrum where people push you further and tell you to use cloth wipes in the bathroom or as wipes for diaper-time instead of using toilet paper or baby wipes.

Look. I just can't. Because poop.

Everyone has their own hard line of how far they're willing to go when being environmentally friendly. Just do your part, make small changes.

Overall, I'm still disgusting and I have to blow my nose all the time. I'm gross. But at least I'm being environmentally friendly about it now.

I'm on a mission to become Nearo Waste as a family, or at least get really darn close (as close as you can without switching to cloth diapers. Because poop).