Whether it's a food spill or something tougher, chances are you've reached for a sponge to get the job done. There are many types of sponges, and the impact they have on the environmental is not universal.
Natural sponges? Those are just fine, keep buying them!
Those classic yellow and green sponges? Unfortunately, they're pretty bad for the planet.
Why are sponges bad for the environment?
Sponges made of synthetic fibers are not recyclable or biodegradable. This means that they're headed straight for the landfill and instead of breaking down and turning into compost they just break down into smaller particles of the same material which stick around in the soil or make their way to the ocean.
Those green and yellow sponges will likely sit around that landfill for hundreds of years, meaning the millions of sponges used annually in the US alone will be here to stay for a while.
Fear not! There are alternatives. Instead of synthetic sponges, opt for natural sponges which bring the same scrubbing power as their plastic counterparts while being compostable which lowers their environmental impact.
Different kinds of sponge alternatives
No two sponge alternatives are the same, there are different kinds of alternatives to consider.
While you may be used to grabbing a three pack of plastic sponges, these green sponge towel alternatives are a bit more complex. Let's break down the broad categories:
Fabric sponges often act as a wrapper for a dish soap, sudsing up like any traditional sponge except for the plastic waste. These sponges are often made of a natural fiber like hemp, making them a compostable option once they're past their prime.
There are tons of natural fibers being turned into sponges, from loofahs to coconut husks there are plenty of green alternatives to give you premium scrubbing power without the harmful waste.
The best eco-friendly sponge alternatives
1) Juniper Seed Mercantile Washable Fabric Kitchen Sponge
Materials: Made from organic bamboo, unbleached cotton waffle, cotton thread
Brand ethics: Juniper Seed Mercantile is a small business based in Colorado, while they primarily serve their local communities they have an online store shipping around the country. They create all their products locally and are committed to finding sustainable alternatives to common single-use products.
2 handmade, eco-friendly, reusable kitchen sponges. Unlike plastic sponges, these are machine and dishwasher washable, and compostable at the end of their life. Made of 2 layers of antimicrobial bamboo sandwiched between two layers of super thick and scrubby, unbleached cotton waffle weave fabric. The cotton is pre-shrunk to make it extra bumpy and scrubby, and minimize further shrinking. Approximate size 3.5″ by 6″. To wash just drop in with your regular laundry.
2) Kempii coconut washing brush
Ditch that plastic dish brush for this coconut-based one.
The bristles are tough enough to shift tough grease and build up, yet soft enough to be used on non-stick pans and glassware. The sturdy angled head makes it perfect to get right into the corners of pans or mugs!
Made ethically from sustainably farmed coconut fibre wrapped around a stainless steel wire and FSC accredited beechwood. Meaning you will no longer unwittingly be releasing microplastics down the drain every time you do the dishes!
3) Public Goods walnut scoring pad
Price: $4.95 for 4
These walnut scouring pads are a heavy duty, plant-based solution to your toughest messes. Tackle baked-on food on your pots and pans, stuck-on grime, and anything else with our toxin-free, hypoallergenic scouring pads, made of durable material. It's the perfect way to take on any mess without unintended consequences for the planet or your health.