Take a step towards saving paper (& plastic)

Earlier this week I told you about how I am trying to use fewer disposable paper tissues by carrying a handkerchief with me instead. That pledge is going well so far, and it’s also been a lot gentler on my nose – especially in the horrible cold weather we’re having here in Wales at the moment.

Over the past few weeks, I have also been trying to cut down on the amount of paper and plastic I throw away by avoding using take-out cups. I already take a flask with me to work every day, but I did have a terrible habit of grabbing a take-out coffee when I was out and about. Not only was I throwing away a lot of disposable cups, but I also realised there was very rarely any reason for me not to drink in the coffee shop if I want a coffee. It’s quite nice to take 20 minutes out and actually sit down and enjoy my decaff soya latte. I’ve also found that my coffee break is a great time to write, and I generally do a lot more work in my notebook in the coffee shop than when I’m at home on my computer.


In the office where I work, my desk is right next to the coffee and water vending machines. Not only is it annoying because there are always people hanging around that get in my way, but all day long I hear the tap-tap-tap of disposable plastic cups being thrown away. I’ve actually seen colleagues get one cup of water from the cooler, drink the water, throw that cup away and then get another cup for more water. They don’t even think to use the same cup twice!

Interestingly, the people who fill the vending machines ran out of plastic cups for a few days a couple of months back. I noticed that a lot of people started using their own water bottles and ceramic mugs brought from home. After one or two days, it made little difference that there were no plastic cups. And I’m glad to say that a lot of my colleagues have continued to use their own water bottles and mugs since.

Take a step towards using fewer tissues

I’m all about making small changes, ‘or steps’, in my life towards being more environmentally aware. I’ve made a small change this week that is so glaringly obvious, it has literally been right under my nose, that I don’t know why I haven’t thought of it before. Inspiration hit me whilst reading about how we can all help in small, but important, ways towards climate change on the Chasing Ice website. One piece of advice is to use cloths instead of paper towels. Although I try and use washable cloths whenever possible in my kitchen, my gaze immediately fell on the roll of kitchen paper that I had on the side. The most frequent thing I use the paper towels for are to blow my nose. It then occurred to me that I have packs of pocket tissues everywhere, in all my bags, in case I ever need them. I’m so careful to use as few paper towels as possible at work, so why don’t I think the same way when I’m blowing my nose? When I was a child I never used a disposable tissue to blow my nose. My Dad always had a cotton handkerchief on him ( a clean one mind), and one of my most frequent childhood memories is of him holding them to my nose in a desperate attempt to stop the unbelievable amount of snot that my it produced. When I got a bit older, my surrogate grandmother (long story) even made me my own handkerchiefs out of scraps of material with my initials embroidered onto the corner.

I don’t remember the point at which I stopped using my handkerchiefs and switched to disposable tissues, but this week I am making the pledge to switch back. I’ve bought some plain white handkerchiefs to get me going, but maybe one day I’ll get creative and make my own with my initials on.