Dear Umbra,

Unfortunately, my nose runs a lot even when I am not sick. I’ve always wondered about the disposal of tissues and hope you can help calm my environmental nerves. Is it best to use a standard tissue and throw it in the trashcan, or blow my nose with toilet paper and flush it in the toilet? I know that an extra flush is not reasonable, but what if I am going to the bathroom and need to blow my nose as well? Should I opt for the TP?

Elizabethtown, Pa.

Dearest Shannon,

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!

You may have read my limp New Year’s column, the one where I had lost my folder of odd letters, and tried to paste a jolly note together despite? I receive oodles of funny letters about the minutiae of the eco-day. You all are working hard to make the world better, but I think you already know what to do with these laborious dilemmae. In honor of relaxation (and my laziness) this Labor Day week, herein are collected a few concepts that baffle so far in 2007.

… but bless you for asking.

Photo: stiickler

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

I lead off with your letter, dearest, because at least one tissue-dilemma question arrives each fortnight, it practically seems. I hesitate to venture seriously into the fray, for fear of encouraging the nose-blowers. Perhaps if I merely point you all toward a few well-proven guidelines: reduce, reuse, recycle. Nothing in there about flushing or the garbage. I know you can connect the snots yourself (sorry — irresistible!): use a hanky.

What else is small and vexing this year? Souvenir refrigerator magnets. Follow the three R’s on that one too, I think. Silicone wristbands. In a brief foray to divine information — any information — about silicone wristbands, I discovered the existence of a vendor site called What a perfectly oxymoronic emporium. Enough said.

Other plastic quandaries include shower loofas — do they come in recycled plastic? I don’t know, but natural loofa is a type of squash, dried out after long life and compostable, so that sounds better. How to recycle sex toys, especially without embarrassing the neighbors? Enough about the neighbors — after all, the brown paper bag was practically invented for this purpose. What about the poor folks at the recycling center? It’s unlikely the toys are recyclable, particularly because of their purpose. Don’t make other people pick them out of the trash.

Hand warmers, used inside mittens during cold weather, should not be disposed of in the garden. It is not vinegar and baking soda hidden inside, after all. Peeing in the sink will never become a mainstream activity, but feel free to do it in the privacy of your home.

Finally, yes, your plastic didgeridoo is just a noisy dioxin bong.

Thank you for the hilarious notes, everyone.