Linen hankies versus disposable tissues? It's a simple step towards sustainable living.

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In an era where it’s (slowly) dawning on us all that single-use items are not sustainable, let’s consider the more environmentally friendly alternative to the everyday disposable tissue. Enter exhibit A: a delicately embroidered handkerchief made from Oeko Tex accredited European pure linen.

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Uh-oh, you say, she’s going on about linen again - but seriously, this fabric has some pretty impressive credentials. Grown without the need for irrigation or pesticides, flax is one of the oldest of all human crops and one of the most sustainable fibres to grow. Flax fibre can be woven into a fine or dense weave linen fabric, takes vegetable-based dyes well without the need for heavy setting chemicals (unlike synthetic fibres) and produces one of the most tactile of all fabrics. Run your fingers through good, organic European linen and try not to close your eyes in delight at just how good it feels.

So when I got to thinking about the dreadful wastage of resources in disposable tissues, and decided to source some washable fabric hankies instead (to supplement the 2 Scottish-made fine cotton hankies my grandmother gave me decades ago), it wasn’t hard to turn to Etsy to discover a much more eco-friendly alternative than tissues. I was looking for something more sustainable than the conventional cotton hankies available in the cheap chain stores. (Who knows how they are made, or who makes them.) I was hunting for something made ethically, from a sustainable source.

I hit the jackpot when I found linen hankies that were not only hand made from Oeko-Tex certified linen in Russia, but were also available with my choice of embroidered initials. (Particularly relevant as my gorgeous linen socks are forever getting “borrowed” by my son, who does all the laundry so has first dibs. So I figured it would be harder to look innocent with somebody’s else’s initials on display in his pocket!)

I placed my order with Yulia from Nordyo, for 5 white hankies with my initials in a scrolled font, in blue thread, with a note explaining I was very excited about being able to use linen hankies instead of disposable tissues, in my attempt to move towards more sustainable choices.

To my delight, she emailed me back straight away, with this charming note:-

Dear Virginia!
Thank you so much for your order! I’m starting working on it.
And also so thank you for trying to keep our planet more clean! I’m so with you!
By the way, choosing linen instead of cotton, is also a sustainable choice - linen needs much less water and no chemicals to grow!
I’ll ship your order asap, and will provide you with tracking number.
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I started using linen handkerchiefs instead of disposable tissues for myself several years ago. When we started Nordyo, our small sewing company, I without doubt wanted to sell them, too.

Using fabric hankies helps to keep our planet clean and prevents from cutting down trees. Another important thing is to sew from OEKO-TEX certified fabric, which means it’s free of harmful chemicals. It took some time, but we found linen we are proud of.

With great pleasure I can see that people are really starting to make those small steps to sustainable living!
— Yulia from Nordyo
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And when they arrived, I was stoked to find they were wrapped in brown paper and jute string. Minimal packaging makes my heart sing.

But the hankies! They are stunning. The linen is impossibly soft, the hems so neatly stitched and the embroidery so beautiful that I may just have gasped in delight… These are treasures to be enjoyed every single day - items that are truly a luxury, hand made from quality materials, and such a pleasure to use. Something which is hand made from sustainable materials - so much better than single use disposable tissues. Something which can make a difference, yet something that is so simple it makes me wonder why on earth did we ever get sucked into the notion of throwaway tissues?

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Luxury that is also eco-friendly.

It’s a simple way to make a difference, + enjoy the beauty of hand made luxury every single day.


Yulia offers a choice of 1, 2 or 3 initials monogrammed in quite a few different fonts, from bold Art Deco masculine to dainty serif script. You can choose the colour of the linen and the colour of the thread, to make your linen hanky very personalised.

She runs the small family-owned business in Belkino, in the Kaluga region of Russia, where the hankies are hand made. As well as hankies, Nordyo also offer monogrammed napkins and guest towels, plus bed linen - and all made from Oeko-Tex certified European linen. The hankies are around AU$14 each.


Sometimes it can seem hard to find the more sustainable option than the way we have been living for decades, but when the eco-friendly option is as beautiful and as affordable as this, it really is a step towards better, more sustainable living that is so simple to do.