Plastic Free July 2020: Day 17 – Tissues


Talk about a bad time to sneeze. It’s amazing how quickly 2020 turned “God Bless You” into “Fuck you.”

Ah Coronavirus.


So let’s start with the good news!

Kleenex (UK) is removing the plastic collar from all their tissue boxes by August 2020. I could not find anything indicating this was happening in the US. I contacted them directly. This was their reply:



Bummer. I also thought it was ironic that she italicized and bold-faced the word “essentials” as her company sells so many non-essential products in non-essential packaging.

What does a collarless tissue box look like?



Are tissues made of plastic?

There are some reports that the Kleenex brand tissues have plastic components in the tissues themselves. According to the Kleenex website, their tissues are made from cellulose pulp derived from forests that they do not give the locations of:

High-quality Kleenex® Tissue requires high-quality cellulose fibers. Pulp is purchased from a number of different sources. Kimberly-Clark does not own any forestlands but requires that all fiber purchased for our pulp mills come from sustainably managed forests. – Kleenex FAQ

When companies refuse to openly display information like what forests they’re cutting from, it raises some red flags. Are these virgin forests? Who says they are sustainably managed? Kleenex?

After doing a quick search, I was able to find some of the forests Kimberly-Clark included Canada’s boreal forests. It took massive protests spearheaded by Forest Friendly 500 initiative to convince Kimberly-Clark to change their policies. Some activists physically blocked workers from entering mills until more sustainable solutions were agreed upon.

Regardless of whether or not you can find pulp-tissues completely plastic-free, they’re still a single-use item.

The most sustainable alternative?

Switching to a Handkerchief:

And again, understandably, this isn’t for everyone. I have a friend who does not have the ability to do his own laundry regularly enough for this to be an option for him. He requires assistance for most physical tasks.

But for me personally, there are many occasions where a reusable cloth or handkerchief works just fine. Like when I’m drying my hands after washing them in a public restroom, when I have the sniffles, or when I need to wipe my tears away after watching the first five minutes of Disney’s Up. One handkerchief saves on countless single-use tissues.

Further Reading:

Paper Facial Tissue – History and Environmental Impact

Tissue: A Social, Environmental and Economic Sustainability Star




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