The Breakdown on Sponges
As many of us have become acutely aware, plastic has been inserted into almost every aspect of our lives in the name of convenience, mass production and affordability. Kitchen and cleaning sponges are no exception. Many widely available sponges are made from polyurethane, which is a petroleum based plastic. They are thrown in the trash regularly and, to go off to the landfill, they release micro plastics into the waste water system.
Cellulose sponges are made from wood pulp and are compostable, as long as the sponge is made from 100% cellulose or a combination of compostable materials. Swedish dish towels are typically a blend of cellulose and cotton, which is 100% compostable. They come in a fun variety colors and prints. Swedish dish towels are thinner than sponges. They are more like dish cloth and can provide a great alternative to paper towels.
If you are crafty and like to knit or crochet, you may be able to make your own sponges out of durable natural and organic yarn that can be composted.
At Mimi's we're taken with the natural loofah sponges. We were relieved to learn they are not sea sponges from the ocean. The plant, luffa aegyptiaca is a vine growing member of the gourd family. Thought to originate in Asia, but now grown in many places, the dark green, cucumber-like fruits can be eaten when harvested young. If it matures and dries on the vine, the outer flesh disappears, leaving the fiberous skeleton. The seeds are shaken out, and the cylindrical sponge can be used in the shower, or cut and sewn into squares for kitchen and cleaning use. Ours, from Zefiro, come in a 3-pack and are sewn with 100% cotton and include a loop for hanging to dry. You soak one before using it for the first time. Once it puffs up and becomes a bit pliable, you're ready to add the soap of your choice and scrub away. A luffah sponge becomes more pliable with use and continues to work great even if small cracks and tears appear. After it's scrubbed it's last pot or wiped down it's last counter, it goes in the compost. Try them and let us know what you think.
As soon as our order of dish soap blocks (personal favorite item!) comes in (from Tacoma), we'll be able to offer a kitchen starter package with a set of 3-loofahs, a bamboo and palm scrubber, a dish soap block, and a muslin produce bag. Try the loofah now and check back soon for more details!