THE SPONGE'S DIRTY SECRET
We’ve all had the ‘it’s time’ moment. Looking around and figuring out the ways that we’re going to tackle the single-use plastic lurking in our homes. You might even decide to rethink what’s under your sink and switch to eco cleaning products (not that we’re biased). But whilst we’re rushing around, refilling and reusing… there’s a not-so-innocent bystander watching on. Although it might take some time to soak up the info, it can’t be denied. They're super unsustainable… and slyly evading detection
But why are they so bad for the planet? And why are more and more plastic sponge brands hitting the shelves? It’s time to Dish the Dirt.
Because they’re not out on the street (or chucked in the bush at the park) like other single-use plastic culprits, it can be easy to forget how many sponges people are using. But in reality, in the UK alone, 400 MILLION plastic sponges are thrown away every year. That’s almost 40 Olympic swimming pools worth of plastic sponges. Every single year.
If we look at the lifecycle of a plastic dish sponge, it’s made using petroleum, which is derived from fossil fuels and releases greenhouse gases. Think about it: we use sponges for all things washing up: from scrubbing spag bol stains to sudsing up coffee cups. But every time you wash up with it, the friction between the sponge and dishes, plus rinsing with hot water causes tiny little pieces of plastic (called microplastics… you can read more about those here) to be shed, going straight down the sink and into the environment.And, because the type of plastic used for sponges isn’t recyclable, it’ll clean its final pan then be shipped off to landfill or a burning facility. So all in all… a bit of an environmental nightmare.
THE SNAZZY SPONGE ERA
Although there are eco options out there (we’ll get onto those in a second), there’s a new wave of sponges hitting the shelves that are making the traditional plastic sponge harder to compete with. Since a certain sponge with a smile first made an appearance in the UK, there have been a wave of novelty sponges hitting the shelves. From cat shaped sponges on online marketplaces, lemon shaped sponges in cookware shops, and the (admittingly adorable) sushi shaped sponges in a clothing shop that sounds similar to the words: ‘shmurban shmoutfitters’ – these novelty sponges are everywhere. It’s added a new level of ‘wow factor’ to the plastic sponge – making it even easier to forget what these sponges are really made of, how they’re made, and the impact that using them can have. Because how could a sloth shaped kitchen sponge be a bad thing?
THE GOOD NEWS
Although they might not be sushi shaped (yet) there are loads of options for eco alternatives. There are super eco options from natural fibre sponges like coconut fibre, cellulose and bamboo, as well as more long lasting plastic scrubbers like silicone (that won’t shed as many microplastics). And a few brands (including us here at Homethings) are starting to come up with ways to make some slightly more exciting shapes – so help provide an eco option for people who are hooked on novelty sponges. All the fun. None of the microplastics. It makes sense.