Tuesday 19 July 2016

5 reasons...to compost used tissues

I was first alerted to the fact you can compost snotty or used tissues by the fabulous Jo at Down To Earth Mother about three years ago - and I haven't looked back since. Over the last few months my family has gone through box loads of them thanks to the never-ending colds the kids have, and call me crazy, but I still get a good feeling when I throw them in the compost instead of the bin or toilet.

Admittedly, when you're out and about it can be a little tricky and potentially unhygienic, but if you're not already composting your tissues at home, then it's time to start.


1. You stop them going to landfill
As we're all aware, reducing landfill is a major priority worldwide for saving the environment, and so every little thing we can do to make our household rubbish less is going to help. Although biodegradable, when tissues are sent to landfill they're often trapped inside plastic bags and therefore won't decompose for a long time. And when they do, they're deprived of oxygen and produce methane - a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. So the less tissues in landfill, the better - unless you like the sound of global warming. Plus you'll help appease an overflowing rubbish bin situation (if you have one).

2. Flushing down the toilet is not good
We obviously need to flush when we use the toilet, but what about the times you've just thrown in tissues and then flushed? When you consider that every time we flush we use valuable water - 4.5 litres of it in fact (if you're using a modern toilet on full flush, 3 litres for half flush) - it's just not worth it for the environment, or your wallet. On top of this, facial tissues are not the same as toilet paper. They may look similar, but toilet paper is designed to break down super fast whereas tissues hang around for a lot longer, making our sewage treatment plants work harder and contributing to clogged pipes.

3. You'll boost your soil supply
Making your own fertilised earth is awesome. It's rich with nutrients to help things grow extremely well, and means you don't have to purchase soil or potting mix. So the more compost the better and whether dry or wet, tissues are a great material to add into the mix as long as they don't have anything bad on them - e.g. pet poo or chemicals. For those in units or who don't have room for a compost, keep an eye on your local council as many in Australia are starting to introduce a compost recycling bin for residents that they will empty and compost the contents for you - how cool is that?

4. There's never a good fire when you need one
Sure you can chuck a used tissue on your log fire, but many people don't have fireplaces in their homes these days (or an actual roaring fire on the go at the same time you need to blow your nose - especially in summer). Not sure snot goes down too well in flames either... 

5. It stops you leaving them around 
When the whole household has come down with the flu sometimes the used tissues lying around can get out of control as people get lazier. This is not good because, you know, germs. Strangely though, when they're headed for the compost, they seem to disappear faster. Kids in particular love popping things in the compost bin as they learn more about recycling.

Did you know...
We're talking about facial tissues here, not wipes or paper towel - although you can actually compost paper towel and paper napkins as well. Just be mindful of what is on them first and if in doubt, throw instead. Where possible buy recycled paper tissues too.

Where do you chuck your used tissues?

Photo credit: Crate&Barrel


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