Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Use handkerchiefs when at home (Day 34)

The interesting thing about owing a house is how much stuff one accumulates over the years.  Take my linen closet, for instance.  In a round of spring cleaning last year, I discovered many linens that had been passed down to me from my grandmother, which I had forgotten were in the closet.  There were tablecloths, napkins, tea cosies, handkerchiefs and doilies.  DH and I used some of them to decorate, and others were shoved back in the closet.

Until two days ago, when, on a quest for another eco-change, I remembered the linen handkerchiefs.  I dug through the piles of towels, blankets, tablecloths, and sheets (I really should purge this closet) and found half a dozen antique lace and linen handkerchiefs.

When my grandmother was growing up in the early part of the 20th c (she was born in 1910), paper tissues were unheard of.  Any lady, that was a lady, carried a handkerchief in her pocket or handbag, for those moments when she had to be indelicate and wipe her hands, blow her hose or wash her face. 

I liked Vanessa's idea of using handkerchiefs instead of Kleenex.  My dad has always used one, so the thought of handling/washing dirty ones doesn't really bother me.  My issue is more with hygiene than distastefulness.  I have always avoided using linens for this purpose because the thought of sticking a yucky one back in my pocket or purse just does NOT appeal.

Then there is the issue of teaching my children about proper hygiene.  It's kind of hard to convince them to blow their noses in the first place, let alone with a cloth that's already been used at least once for that purpose.  They would not buy into that.  But then I thought, what if I used the handkerchief only once before washing?

My cloth napkins are a one-time use.  I change my powder room hand towel at least once a day.  It's almost inevitable that I go through 3 or 4 tea towels, between mopping up spills and washing sticky fingers.  I go through about 6 or more face cloths, depending on what we've had to eat that day.   I already do a load of laundry a day with all of these linens, so adding a few extra hankies won't make a difference to my water and electricity use.  I have about 40 face cloths that I used for the day care, so I don't even need to go out and buy hankies - I can just use those.

I draw the line at using hankies in public, for now.  The thought of trying to find a way to carry one or more dirty hankies home in my pocket or purse - yuck!  Disposable tissues when I am away from home, and reusable ones at home.  I think that is a fair compromise.

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