Believe it or not, sponges are a major source of waste and toxins in the kitchen. Clean up your act now with these eco-products.
100% cellulose spongesPros:
- Man-made from plant-based materials like cotton fiber and/or wood pulp, which are renewable and make Mother Nature a lot happier.
- Manufacturing process releases fewer environmental toxins overall (compared to conventional plastic/polyester versions).
- Fully biodegradable — can be composted successfully (just cut into small pieces to aid decomposition).
- Not ideal for germaphobes since fungi and bacteria love moist plant fibers (but frankly, all you have to do is microwave your sponge for at least a minute for a clean slate, or soak them in a hydrogen peroxide bath).
- Can be pricey compared to synthetic, mainstream versions.
- Depending on the brand, some may not seem to hold up as effectively as others.
- Some brands may blend polyester plastic into wood pulp, so read the labels carefully!
Brands to consider
- Trader Joe’s Pop Up Sponges: Sold as a 12-pack for $6.99, these natural vegetable cellulose kitchen aids spring into their full fighting form (4¼-inch x 3¼-inch and 1 inch high) when hydrated.
- Natural Value Cellulose Sponges: This super-affordable four-pack, often priced for as little as $1 in co-ops, contains dual-surface, multi-textured sponges made with 50% post-consumer recycled materials. Even more appealing is the Walnut Scrubber Sponge with an organic walnut shell scrubber surface that tackles tough kitchen messes.
- Scotch-Brite Greener Clean Natural Fiber Non-Scratch Scrub Sponge: Of the 100% natural plant fibers used to make this product, 23% are derived from post-consumer paper, and the scrubbing surface contains 50% renewable agave plant.
- EcoSponge: Made with a highly absorbent recycled wood chip fabric called viscose, these admittedly costly sponges (roughly $7 for a two-pack of 3-inch by 4½-inch sponges) are hand/machine washable and dryable, but they still manage to hold up without looking like they’ve been around the block.
- Full Circle “Scoop” Sponge: With their unusual arched design, these 100% biodegradable natural cellulose sponges apparently retard bacterial growth since air can circulate more effectively to facilitate drying. You just have to decide if you think a curved sponge two-pack is worth $4.49.
- Twist Naked Sponge: Dye- and chemical-free (not to mention 100% cellulose), each sustainably packaged offering comes in three different sizes to fit your specific cleaning needs. These sponges do show stains rather fast, but that’s the tradeoff when you’re going au naturel. Also worth trying: the 100% plant-based Heavy Duty Agave Scrubber (just like the sisal that kitties like to sharpen their claws on) is perfect for those who like to take their frustrations out on their dirty pans, while their Euro Sponge Cloth packs just as much biodegradable potential into a flexible, soap-absorbing kitchen aid.
- Vileda Naturals: This textured sponge-cloth hybrid, made from 100% certified renewable wood fibers, does a great job of absorbing messes and rises to the challenge of repeated uses.
- Loofah-Art Scrubbers: If it’s good for the bathroom, then it should work wonders on your dirty dishes. That’s the premise behind these festively colored and shaped 100% biodegradable, nontoxic loofah sponge dish scrubbers — a slight indulgence at $4 a pop.
- Grow Your Own Luffa Sponge: No, that’s not a typo. Luffa plants grow an elongated gourd-like fruit that can be transformed into the exfoliating sponge that we all call a loofah merely by removing the fleshy part of its internal fiber structure and allowing it the remaining plant network to dry. Just cut it into scrub-worthy pieces and use it for all your kitchen-cleaning tasks!