Sponges. We all use them, from cleaning pots and pans to other household chores. But did you know that many sponges contain plastic? They are also pretty hard to recycle. We recently made some changes in our kitchen to reduce sponge use, including using Swedish dishcloths. They are made from biodegradable cellulose, can absorb 20 times their weight, don’t collect bacteria (because they dry so rapidly), and can be washed (dishwasher or laundry machine) @50 times. They say that one cloth alone can replace 17 rolls of paper towels. You can use these for almost anything you’d use a sponge or paper towel for: wiping down counters, cleaning up spills, and cleaning appliances.
For cleaning baked-on messy pots and dishes, however, more aggressive tools are sometimes needed. Again, “scrubby” sponges are usually made of plastics which can’t be recycled and often shed microplastics into the water supply.
We made a switch to a Japanese scrubber, called Kamenoko Tawashi. Kamenoko means small-turtle and Tawashi means scrubber.
I have to admit, I was quite dubious of using this scrubber, but after only a couple of clean-ups after meals, I am a believer. There is more information about it here:
I have found that it does not scratch dishes, pots, or pans, but as the author of the article points out, you may not want to use it on fine china. She mentions their longevity, and so far this is true for us: we have used the same scrubber for a few months and it still looks brand new.
Of course, everyone has their preferences when it comes to washing dishes. Other eco-friendly options include: dish brushes, copper scrubbers, etc.
Although the cost may be more initially, the frequency of replacement is far less, leading to cost savings and waste reduction in the long run.
Replacing kitchen sponges with one of these alternatives may seem like a small action, but doing so can have a big impact on the environment and on our health. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!