#131 Handy hankies

Yesterday was World Environment Day, and being the ‘recycling-happy’ person that I am, I feel it needs a mention.

However, before I go any further, I’d just like to say that as with handkerchief so with hanky – the plural form is confusing, even debatable. I’ve obviously gone with ‘drop the y, add -ing’. Happy to blow my nose corrected.

As I was readying myself for Netball coaching yesterday I heard the statistic that EVERY DAY we effectively chop down 27,000 trees just so we can make enough toilet/tissue paper for the globe. That’s phenomenal. 27,000 trees: down the dunny daily.


Halfway through the Netball game yesterday, one of my girls got a runny nose – standard fare in winter. She asked for a tissue, which I realised I did not have. I got a clean (totally clean) handkerchief from my handbag and said ‘This is all I’ve got. Keep it. A present.’

She looked at me disgusted and handed it back. Another girl looked at it and said, somewhat mesmerised, “What is that?”

I can’t recall if I explained or not. Fortunately at this point, a parent appeared with a small pack of tissues which were quickly handed out to a few ten year olds with runny noses.

Now I understand the disgust. We used to jokingly call hankies ‘snot rags’ when I was about the same age as the girls I coach. However, the hanky handed over was hygienic.

Still, I get it. But what a waste.

And I think of all the tissues the boys I teach go through in my classroom. And yes, I always make sure there’s a box on the desk in winter, as do most other teachers. None of us want to listen to sniffing.

Still, it’s a real waste.

Long gone are the days when my Dad was at school (they really are long gone, sorry Dad) and they used to have a “handkerchief parade” at the start of every day during which they’d sing a song and wave about the clean handkerchief for the day.

In hindsight, this appears to be a rather effective chance for the teacher to do a little inventory to determine whose nose is potentially going to be very irritating as the day moves on…

However, it’s got some strong post-colonial days vibes coming out of it too.

It doesn’t have to though.

Instead of thinking ‘how old-fashioned’ perhaps we should recognise that our wasteful society could take a leaf out of their dusty old books. Does seem a rather environmentally friendly thing to do.

And it’s also Biblical.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 

That’s the first job Adam was given. Work in the world and take care of it. Anything different to that, is disobeying God.

Christians should care about the environment. They should care about the world, because they believe it’s God’s world and he’s given them the task of looking after it until he wraps it all up again.

However, I wouldn’t want to suggest some bizarre dichotomy in which people think that hankies are holy and tissues are for sinners. That would be ludicrous.

I’m just saying it’s Biblical to care about the environment. How we do that is going to change at different points in time. Sometimes a tissue really is exactly what you need.

And, for the record…on the way home from Netball I went to the local IGA, forgot my mesh bag for the fruit so put it in a plastic bag instead…. then bought a takeaway coffee (ahem…).

For the record, times two….both the plastic bag and takeaway coffee cup will be recycled though.

And when I buy sushi at the school canteen I always bring the plastic container home to recycle!!!

I’m feeling the need to justify myself now, so I’ll stop. I’ll leave the justifying to Jesus 😉

Caring for the environment. It’s Biblical. It’s important.

It just takes a bit of preparation and practice.

Yet, it’s looking after God’s world the way he asked us to, long before hankies were even invented.

Yours in carrying a hanky in her pocket,


PS I’m amused by the fact that just before starting to type this post I almost reached out to a tissue box in front of me before remembering I had a hanky in my pocket… not putting myself on any higher ground here 🙂

Photo by Edward Jenner on Pexels.com

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