Tuesday, June 02, 2009

When did you last disinfect your tissue paper?

Since the start of this 'swine flu' scare, there has been an increase in the government-sponsored advertising with the slogan 'Catch it. Bin it. Kill it'.

Well, it has certainly killed much of my hankie business which is usually in full flow this time of year, it being hayfever season. And you know what is even more exasperating? They are using MY tax money to bring you this advertising, effectively ruining my business.

This admonition to 'bin it' suggests that disposable tissue paper is more hygienic than cloth hankies. One school website says explicitly that cloth hankies are to be avoided. But when was the last time you disinfected a piece of tissue paper?

So, being the researcher that I am I took a closer look at my internet search results for 'swine flu and hankie'. Here are some of my conclusions:

(1) The habit of covering one's mouth with a hankie or tissue when one sneezes or coughs is no longer a habit amongst some of the younger people in this country. One writer complained about a mother letting her young child cough and sneeze and letting the outflow of solids and liquids spray all around the train carriage they were sharing, with no sign of guilt or remorse.

Another reported how a hoodie stood next to him at a traffic junction and started emptying the contents of his nasal passages onto the streets, and not always hitting the target.

Yet another suggested that "[s]urely the idea of people covering their mouths when they cough or sneeze is commonsensical, and a mannerly thing we should all learn from an early age".

(2) It is therefore a question of 'catch it' in the first place. The emphasis on paper tissue is misplaced, a sign that this campaign was probably designed by young people who do not know what a handkerchief is.

Compare the current campaign to this World War II poster:

Then, when tissue paper was non-existent, a cloth handkerchief did the job.

(3) Cloth hankies are still doing the job.

My husband is immunocompromised. He only uses hankies.

I suffer from hayfever. I use cloth hankies. Swopped back from tissue paper some years ago.

My son only uses cloth hankies. He loves the ones with his name embroidered in very large letters so no one throws them away ... again. (We suspect that some of his hankies had gone missing because other children did not realize that it was 'lost property' and not a funny kind of stretchy tissue to be put in the bin.)

My son also has one of the best attendance records in class, better than those who use only tissue paper.

(4) Sure, we put our used hankies back in our pockets. Some people say, "Yuck! Keeping all those bacteria in your pocket can't be good." But at least we keep our own bacteria to ourselves.

There is a Chinese saying: disease enters through one's mouth. Conversely, what comes out of us can't kill us. Might kill someone else, but not us. And that is the point: we must use a hankie to cover our mouth when we sneeze in order not to infect other people.

We wash our hankies. We dry them in the sun. We iron them. We are effectively killing any bacteria that might still be lurking.

When did you last disinfect a paper tissue?

Wash tissue paper? Yes, done that many times, by accident. They always end up in bits and stick to your dark colour clothes.

Dry them? They always end up in a hardened glob, does it not, in a bin or wherever?

Iron tissue paper? Never.

(5) Used tissue paper left in open bins which might not be emptied for several days = bacteria to share with all and sundry. Surely this is even more "Yuck".

In summary then, I suspect that the NHS campaign is targetted at people who do not use either tissue paper or cloth hankies in the first place. To suggest that paper is better than cloth is misplaced.

I wonder if my accountant could claim some money back from the revenue people for ruining my business. Or should I bring a case to the advertising complaints/standards folk? Anyone out there with expert advice for me?

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See also: This swine fever business

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Layla said...

oh gosh, sorry to hear about the flu scare ruining your business!!

Yes, I WOULD go & complain with the campaign people, and anyone with authority!!

Maybe even on the grounds of 'false advertising'?!

I would ask them some of the same questions I asked at Mrs Green's blog Myzerowaste: How are the binmen 'protected' from the paper tissues? (what if the plastic bags rip while they are uploading the truck with trash?)
How are the landfills or people who work in incinerators protected from spreading the bacteria/viruses?

In Slovenia, a lot of landfills are unregulated & the waters are not even cleaned!! (most will have to close now in July due to EU regulation - but old paper hankies - if laden with viruses? - even though decomposing themselves - will still pollute the earth for a long time! or even help create methane, which is an explosive gas & causes fires & highly toxic dioxin in the air! see http://www.energyjustice.net/lfg/ )
In incinerators, the paper hankies may be burnt, & I really doubt if there are many totally chlorine-free hankies out there!! If they are not TCF, they will help create dioxin emissions - more cancer-causing chemicals needed in the air?

Now how many people have died of flu & how many die of cancer every day?

Most people have survived this flu with only minor signs anyway!!

Also, I researched this 'swine flu' a bit - seems MORE people die of ordinary flu every year than of swine flu!!
Even the medicine Tamiflu killed 14 kids in Japan, I read.. so my folks wanted none of it, even if they did have the 'swine flu'!!

And finally, I personally still use cloth hankies (& cloth pads!), & recently - everyone else in our family who uses the paper tissues got sick!! I was the only one that remained totally healthy!! A coincidence? I think not!

Dioxin (a by-product in paper production when bleaching stuff with chlorine - yes, hankies and conventional pads & tampons & such too!) is bad for the immune system so it is MUCH better to stay away!! (Google 'dioxin paper hankies' if the link doesn't work)
At least I hope people get recycled paper hankies or as chlorine-free as possible!!
Personally, I MUCH prefer cloth!!

So I wish your business to pick up soon, & people & advertising agencies to finally see the light!

Layla said...

Oh, & I wanted to post this link: they say here that soap & detergents kill the virus!!

So why oh why do they want people to infect their binmen & landfill/incinerator workers (before the burn) - when they could just wash the hankies (with strong enough detergent &/or heat!) & kill the germs!!

Interestingly they do not advise people throwing their bed linen & pyjamas away!!

Come to think of it - if this whole 'swine flu' thing is a marketing ploy (for Tamiflu) - might be they are doing marketing for paper tissue companies too? Where else does Rumsfeld have shares? (or buddies??)