With so many cold and flu cases each year, it’s also important to think about the amount of waste we generate when we get sick. Here are five ways to stay eco-friendly during cold and flu season:

1. Hydrate responsibly

Getting enough water and staying hydrated throughout the day is always important, but it’s even more important when your body is fighting off an infection. Consider purchasing a reusable water bottle with measurement markings to help you track whether you’ve had enough water.

With only about 23% of plastic bottles3 in the U.S. actually being recycled, reusable water bottles are also much better option for the environment.

2. Use handkerchiefs

Think back to the last time you were sick. How many tissues did you use? Tissues are a cold and flu care package staple. Unfortunately, according to the founder of World Green Organization, at least 17 trees have to be cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are contaminated to produce a ton of tissue paper.4

Instead of purchasing single-use tissues, consider purchasing a reusable handkerchief. Handkerchiefs are great alternatives to tissues, but remember to wash them often.

If you must use tissues, note that they aren’t recyclable but tissues (clean or used with water or food products) are accepted at many compost facilities. Check with your local compost to see what’s accepted and what’s not.

3. Disinfect to protect

Most cold and flu viruses are easily spread through respiratory droplets that are expelled into the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Viruses can also stay active on surfaces like light switches and countertops. Because of this, it’s important to disinfect commonly touched surfaces regularly during cold and flu season.

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Make this task more eco-friendly by making your own disinfectant spray at home:5

  • Step 1: Fill a glass spray bottle (16 oz) almost all the way full with high-proof alcohol. The CDC recommends6 alcohol solutions that are at least 70% alcohol.

  • Step 2: Add 1/2 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide.

  • Step 3: Add essential oils.

    • 30 drops of tea tree essential oil

    • 15 drops of lemon essential oil

    • 15 drops of lavender essential oil

    • 15 drops of eucalyptus essential oil

  • Step 4: Twist on the spray top and shake to mix the solution.

  • Step 5: Label the cleaning solution.

4. Try home remedies

Before making a trip to the drug store, try some home remedies. Below are some alternative remedies that may provide cold and flu symptom relief.

  • Gurgle lukewarm salt water

  • Eat a teaspoon of honey

  • Supplement with vitamin C and zinc

  • Try steam therapy

Read more about home remedies here.7 If you experience persistent or worsening symptoms, check with your doctor for further recommendations.

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5. Try cold medicine from Cabinet

Stock up your medicine cabinet with sustainable, over-the-counter essentials from Cabinet Health. Your initial order of medicine will be sent with one of our reusable glass bottles and medicine refills will be sent in a pouch made from compostable materials.