When consciously cutting down on waste and in particular plastic within the home, for a more sustainable life, it’s important to consider all of the items you use and discard regularly.
Kitchen sponges, cloths and scourers are one of those things that are made of plastic and changed ever so often, sometimes even once a week. The traditional sponges that you find in most supermarkets are usually made of polyester and polyurethane which will add microplastics to your dishwater every time you wash up. Some sponges may contain triclosan, a hormone-disrupting anti-bacterial agent, and manufacturer 3M is yet to confirm what the dye in the sponges are made of so it could be anything!
Luckily we have other options to consider as there are many new eco-friendly brushes and sponges that we can employ to help keep our kitchens tidy, sustainable and habitable.
Choosing a New Kitchen Sponge: Types of zero waste and more eco friendly sponges
Sponges can vary in the type of material and their longevity. You’ll also need a hard bristle for scrubbing pots and pans.
Cellulose sponges are made from wood pulp and can usually be identified by larger holes within the sponge. These sponges are usually compostable as it’s made from natural fibres, but be aware that it can potentially be soaked in chemical anti-bacterial agents such as triclosan.
Swedish dish cloths are made of cellulose and cotton and does last a long time. Once you’re done with it you can chuck these in the compost, just cut them up so that they degrade more quickly.
Note that some of these sponges could have a scourer side made from polyurethane which is not biodegradable and potentially harmful.
Sea Sponges should be Avoided
I’m mentioning sea sponges as some websites are listing them as sustainable and technically speaking they are 100% biodegradable and natural. People have been using these to clean for ages, however, sea sponges are living organisms and at threat of overharvesting. I think sea creatures have enough to worry about, they don’t need more people exploiting them so I’d say it’s best to avoid using sea sponges at all times. They are also the primary food source for the endangered baby Hawksbill sea turtles and are definitely not vegan, if that is a concern for you.
Silicone sponges can technically be recycled, but they are normally only recycled by specialist companies and is likely to cost you pain, fuel and effort to get rid of. You’re welcome to consider these as they are more environmentally friendly than plastic, but this sounds like a lot of hard work that I’d rather avoid personally.
Natural Loofah Sponges
Loofah sponges are made from plants that grow on vines and look a little bit like cucumbers. Sponges made from the luffa or loofah (same thing different spellings) plants are 100% bio degradable and is classed as a zero waste product.
I won’t say that it is the most incredible scrubber in the world but it does the job more naturally.
Bamboo Dish Brushes
Bamboo dish brushes fit perfectly in your hand and make easy work of washing up. Just be mindful that some of the brushes have variants of plastic either in the bristles or the body of the brush. These should last you a considerable amount of time and the plastic tend to be a lot less than a traditional sponge. The Full Circle version shown below contains an amount of recycled plastic, the Bürstenhaus Redecker Large Dish Brush is plastic-free.
Walnut Shell and Coconut Ccouring Pads
Walnut shells and coconut fibre are both naturally abrasive and make a pretty decent scouring pad. It lasts long and is 100% biodegradable. A win-win for you and the environment!
The list above should give you a good base to work from when you buy your next dish sponge, scourer or brush. Unfortunately, you’ll still need to do the dishes, there’s no getting around that but hopefully, I’ve saved you a little bit of research time with the options above.
Feel free to suggest any favourites in the comments below.