Do Your Bit: Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases

It’s happened. The air has turned cold, the mist has settled and I have a cold. I can hear your tiny violins come out as I sit here with my stinging eyes and sore head and I confess all these sniffles have made it little bit harder to stay on my low waste mission.

I learnt pretty quickly that being a bit more sustainable meant a lot more organised. But now my brain is fuzzy and full of germs, it’s all gone out of the window. I’ve forgotten to bring my lunch to work so had to buy packaged snacks, brain fog means posts are no existent, a forgotten coffee cup meant had to get a disposable cup for my hot chocolate (though completely worth it for how delicious it was) and dinner prep is nonexistent. Being sick in itself also creates more rubbish, I’ve been meaning to make myself some hankies but haven’t got round to it, thinking I would have a little longer before the germs arrived so I’m surrounded by a little pile of tissues and my cold and flu drugs come in a blister pack that can’t be recycled. All in all, I’m feeling pretty sorry for myself. I can hear your tiny violins hitting a crescendo now.

But before I fall in to my pit of wallow, it’s not all bad, this bug has given me a perfect excuse to reread the brilliant war time leaflet “How to Keep Well in Wartime” that I picked up in Bletchley park last summer. Written in 1943, it is jammed full of the advice and common sense which still work now as it did then.

Keeping the country healthy in the Home Front was a pretty important feat, not only did coughs and sneezes lowered moral, it slowed the country’s productivity and prevention was the front line battle and it was all important to push prevention as those pesky little germs could spread so quickly in the crammed air raid shelters and packed bus and trains.

The foreword to “How to Keep Well in Wartime” from the minister of health, Ernest Brown, stated the “nation was losing about 22 million weeks’ work each yeah though common and often preventable illnesses” and “this is calculated to be equivalent to the loss of 24,000 tanks, 6750 bombers and 6,750,000 rile a year, not to mention the pain and inconvenience we suffer as individuals.” All in all, quite a blow to the war effort, so to help curb some of these lost hours, this little booklet was produced full of common sense rules and good habits which make sense any era you are in, even if some of it feels a little like teaching your grandma to suck eggs.

I would really recommend reading a copy of this booklet (click here to see a PDF copy) as it is as much about how it is written as the advice it gives. It also still feels relevant with its parts on getting enough sleep, personal hygiene, eating the right diet and keeping a check on your metal health.

I want to explore all the theme it talks about separately as one post wouldn’t do them justice here but I thought I would share some of the little pearls of wisdom it offers that are relevant to staying cold and flu free with a few of my own low waste sick tips that I recommend thrown in, so here it is:

How to Keep Well and Zero Free

  1. Struggling to sleep? “A quarter of an hour’s walk in the open air before bedtime may give you a pleasant feeling of mental relaxation that will quickly bring on sleep. Some people are helped by a hot bath, others by a hot drink (but not tea or coffee)” Also “you won’t sleep healthily if the windows are closed. So open the windows wide, in all weathers except fog, just before getting into bed, and keep warm by putting over yourself more blankets or a dressing gown or an overcoat.”
  2. Use hankies over tissue. There are several reasons this is good, you aren’t wasting trees to wipe your shnoze, you don’t leave a trail of frankly foul used tissues behind you, the hankies can be reused after a quick wash in the machine and you can make them out of some pretty funky fabrics to match all your outfits. What’s not to love?
  3. Fresh air isn’t just important at night time “You should pay the greatest attention to ventilation. There is no doubt that we feel better and are better if the rooms in which we work, eat and sleep are well ventilated. Headaches, lassitude, lack of appetite may all result from a stuffy room, especially from the dead atmosphere of a centrally heated one. It does not matter so much that the air should be fresh as that it should be on the move.
  4. Instead of shop brought throat soothers, have a go at mixing your own easy to make honey and lemon drink with local honey and fresh lemons.
  5. Drink enough water. “Water plays a vital part in all the chemicals and physical change in the body. Yet some people think it is jut stuff to wash in.  Water is meant to be drunk. In fact you must drink it or you would die of thirst. You should take some three pints a day. Most people like their water coloured rather than plain, even if the colour is only that of weak tea or bad coffee. Some people still like a glass, though they will tell you that nowadays it is little better than coloured water. You can drink too much tea, too much coffee, too much beer” “Too much always does harm. Few people drink enough water. So see that you get enough if it yourself”
  6. Sore eyes can plague us at any time of the year but with the biting cold winds and our ever increasing screen time can make it feel ever worse when you’re feeling a little under the weather so why not give them the respite they need with fridge cooled spoons or cucumber
  7. Germ Spreading “There is an obvious way of stopping germs getting from your mouth and throast into the air around you – that is to cover your mouth and nose with a handkerchief every time you cough or sneeze. To cough or sneeze without doing this is a rude and disgusting habit and it is amazing how many people, through thoughtleness, have this habit”

I’d love to hear your tips for practical and low waste ways for getting through cold and flu season, just comment below or message me on twitter @VforVictoryBlog and I’ll read them from my duvet hovel, with windows open and cucumbers a ready, hoping to hear all of those violins of yours.

This blog is part of my Do Your Bit series all about the things you can do to make the world a little brighter and better, read more at Do Your Bit

Do Your Bit

Hatty Harley View All →

I am a pink haired, list lover with a silver lining outlook on life and a passion for reviving history.

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