Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Day 149 - Tissue? I Don't Even Know You!

Composting Dirty Tissues

If you've been paying attention, you know that the kiddos have been sick this past week. Thanks to everyone for the well-wishes, they are both doing much better and should be able to go back to preschool today.

Happy, happy, joy, joy :-)

However, over the course of the past six days, we have generated a huge amount of dirty tissues. I hated the thought of having to add all this paper waste to my trash output, especially since I didn't even use tissues made from recycled paper (damn those are scratchy!). So, to assuage my guilt, I turned to my trusty friends in my Compact and Riot newsgroups to get some 411 on composting tissues and other paper products.

Turns out, there is a "black belt composter" in my Compact group who has been turning his tissues into garden goodies for many a year now. He told me they make great brown matter (yeah, I know -- more like "green matter") and that the higher temps generated by the composting action will kill all the nasty germs.

So I set up yet another bin in my trash cupboard for dirty tissues and any other easily broken down papers. For those of you counting, that's now FIVE separate bins: Trash, Wet Compost, Recyclable Plastic/Tin/Glass, Recyclable Paper and now Dry Compost. Thank goodness I'm such an Anal Annie and actually enjoy this kind of psycho-organization.


One cold hitting two kids has produced an entire box (200 tissues) worth of dirty tissues. Let's assume the kids get sick four times this winter and hubby and I each get sick three times. That's a total of seven colds, or 700 tissues from winter colds, plus, let's assume another 300 from your daily boogie-removal, sneezes and whatnot (or would that be "whatsnot"?). At any rate, that's 1,000 tissues being removed from landfills every year and turned into compost.

Difficulty Level: 1 out of 5

Not bad at all. The hard part is getting everyone else in the house to start putting the tissues in the new bin. Of course, I'd be happy if they'd just stop leaving them on the counter. GROSS!!!!!


Heather Piper said...

'least they're using TISSUES!

Anonymous said...

In a month-long bout with bronchitis last year, I plowed through nine boxes of puffs plus lotion. Four of them were the jumbo "30% more in each box!" type. Boy, was my compost bin full!!

I know what you mean about recycled tissues. I think the recycling process must shorten the fibers, and shorter fibers make a rougher 'fabric'.

I use recycled tissues for everyday stuff, hankies made out of baby flannel for the first signs of a sniffle, but for serious allergy attacks and colds, out comes the lotiony facial tissues made from virgin fibers!

Green Bean said...

Hmmmm. I have been wondering since our trash definitely has increased as cold and flu season hits. I'm not opposed to the occasional hankie but for a cold - especially with kids - I think I'd be running the washer 24/7.

So with these, um, used, tissues you ultimately throw them into the compost bin? Any reason that you set them up in your house separate from the wet compost? I may need to consider this - after Christmas.

JJ (Lady Di) said...

Stupid question, why do you separate your trash like that?

I am going to gather that I can just throw them into my compost pile?

Although I am trying to use handkerchiefs more often. (Which btw, are hard to find!) Although I am doing it more for the fact that I forget to check my pockets and I have to pick tissues off of hubbys clothes when they come out of the dryer (and he wears mostly black clothes) than anything else. As someone who suffers from year-round allergies, I can go through some tissues. As a family we joke about how you can tell people who don't have allergies. They're the ones who only have tissues in the bathroom vs those who have boxes in every room. :)

Anonymous said...

I'll take a stab at the trash-separation question: keeping dry compost separate from wet gives you more control over the ratio of "brown" to "green" stuff in your compost?

Just wanted to add that I, too, have allergies, and I personally think that the Green Forest brand tissues are pretty soft for being made of recycled paper. Then again, I started using these after last spring, so I haven't tried the worst season yet. Thus far my nose has held up well, though.

Thanks for the blog. I've been looking to compost my own nose-drippings myself lately. I figured the heat from the composting process would kill the germs and it's nice to read of someone with the same opinion. Maybe if you're uncertain you could soak a bunch of them in a bucket of hot, soapy (biodegradable) water first? Then just add the whole wet mess to the compost pile.