Living Greener with Each Sneeze

Woman Sneezing with Handkerchief
Choosing more sustainable options can be easier than you think. There are products we use all over the house that can be swapped for a more eco-friendly substitute. Including your facial tissues. Many don’t realize the impact that something as simple as a tissue or paper towel can have on the planet.

Americans use upwards of 255,360,000,000 disposable facial tissues a year. That number is in the billions! The global demand for tissue paper, which includes facial tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins, is expected to grow 4% every year through 2021. While we often don’t think that a little piece of tissue could use a lot of trees, we also need to consider what goes into the production, processing, and packaging of each box or roll that we purchase.

The plants that create paper products are usually located on a body of water. It takes large amounts of electricity and water, which then turns into pollution being released into the air, and by products being dumped into waterways. The environmental footprint of facial tissue is increased even more when it is bleached white, or has something added like lotion, and is packaged in cardboard and plastic.

Whether the facial tissue you buy is made from virgin or recycled paper pulp, it is still made from trees, a material that takes years or even decades to grow. Logging practices are cutting down forests, which is contributing to global warming, causing loss of habitat for plants and animals, and polluting waterways.

You can help the environment by choosing to switch to using handkerchiefs and reusable cloths instead of paper towels and tissues. Microfiber towels, cotton dishrags, and even old t-shirts can help cut down on household use of paper products that just get thrown away. Some might feel odd blowing their nose into a hankie that you don’t have to toss instead of the typical tissue, but these sustainable practices help to save money, use less resources, and create less waste around the house!


- Poppenheimer, Linda. “Paper Facial Tissue – History and Environmental Impact.” Green Groundswell, 25 Nov. 2019,
- The World Counts,

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