Traditional kitchen sponges are made of a mixture of cellulose, a naturally-occurring wood fiber, and synthetic materials like polyethylene plastic mesh to provide durability and a scouring surface. This combination is what makes up the typically yellow and green colored sponges that are most commonly sold today.
In addition to its mixture of natural and synthetic materials, kitchen sponges are also usually treated with antibacterial agents to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Add to this that most kitchen sponges have a lifespan of a few weeks – and they’re packaged in plastic – and you can see how these are not an environmentally friendly option for keeping your kitchen clean.
Luckily, this one is an easy fix with many options:
Swedish dishcloths - Each cloth replaces 17 rolls of paper towels. They are 100% compostable, biodegradable, and recyclable and last 6-9 months. Plus, I dare you to not be charmed by the patterns!
Reusable cloth sponges - scraps of leftover felt sewn together to make a sustainable, highly absorbent alternative. Can be thrown in the washing machine and will last years.
Wooden dish brushes - If you want to avoid sponges altogether, but still want to get a good scrub going, wooden dish brushes are a great alternative. The bristles last about a year and are made of naturally-occurring materials that will decompose over time. Some are designed so that a replacement head can be attached. These work great with a solid dish soap!
Reusable dish rag - Perfect way to reduce and reuse. Old t-shirts or too-stained kitchen tea towels make great substitutes for sponges.