10+ Compostable & Eco-Friendly Sponges
Updated: Dec 1
Most of the sponges we can purchase in the supermarket are made from a combination of wood cellulose (which can’t be recycled) and different types of plastics, such as spun polypropylene fibers. These not only pollute our environment when they were produced. Also during use, these synthetic sponges continue to pollute our environment because they release microplastic when we use these to do our dishes. So, it is time for something more sustainable like a compostable sponge that does not release microplastics during use but also can be composted at the end of its lifespan. Therefore this list of xxx compostable sponges creates a zero-waste kitchen.
What is biodegradable?
When looking at the word itself, the definition of biodegradability may seem quite easy. The “bio” part hints that this product can naturally break down with the help of bacteria, fungi, or other natural biological processes.
This sounds promising, however, there are many things to take into consideration. Keep in mind that, nearly everything can degrade and fall apart. Even well-known polluters such as plastic or diapers will eventually break down, but it could take hundreds of years.
So, there lies the important difference; A product can be considered truly biodegradable if it can quickly break down into harmless particles with no human intervention. The word “quickly” can be defined differently, but anything up to a year is usually satisfactory. If it takes more time, it is considered degradable, but not biodegradable.
Another aspect to take into consideration is how well can a material can break down. For example, plant-based plastic is usually considered biodegradable. While it can biodegrade meaning break down naturally, it relies heavily on environmental factors such as temperature and humidity level. In suboptimal conditions, it will lose its ability to degrade quickly and will be just as harmful to the environment as regular plastic.
As a general rule of thumb, every plant-based, animal-based, or natural-mineral-based product is biodegradable. Many people are not aware of that and assume only food and plants are biodegradable, but the list is much longer. Even though they take more time to break down to a microscopic level, such things as paper bags or cardboard boxes can be biodegradable as well.
What is compostable?
Composting is a special type of biodegradation that is done by humans and can only be applied to organic products. Where biodegradation can leave toxic residue, the result of composting is useful for the environment. Compost which is decomposed organic waste can be used as a fertilizer.
Compostable materials are an amazing way to not only minimize the harm we do to our environment but also improve the conditions of the soil. By supplying it with nutritious compost, we improve the soil’s structure and water retention thus aiding plant growth.
What’s the difference between biodegradable and compostable?
While composting is a rather easy-to-understand concept, biodegradability doesn’t have a strict universal definition. That’s part of the reason why the terms are confused so often.
Whether or not we can consider a product biodegradable largely depends on the time it takes to break down. Which is defined by the conditions in which the process takes place.
Composting is, essentially, optimized biodegradation. It creates the perfect condition so that products can break down in a fast and non-toxic manner. But, not every biodegradable product can be composted which means a product not suitable for composting can take longer to break down, which can disrupt the composting cycle if you place them in a composting bin.
Finally, the term compostability refers to the product’s ability to be turned into compost which can help the environment in a short amount of time. Biodegradability means that in the right conditions the material can quickly degrade through a biological process.
Dish clothes are often made from microfiber which is a synthetic man-made material made from petroleum. This is not only very polluting to produce, but it also slowly releases microplastics when you use them. Luckily there are more eco-friendly options available like this Swedish dishcloth. These can absorb 15 times their weight in water and they are completely made from plant materials. They are made of 30% cotton and 70% plant cellulose and are completely compostable at the end of their lifecycle. They are also very quickly, and machine washable, so you can keep using these composable clothes over and over.
Natural latex pad
Latex is another natural material we don’t usually see in our kitchen for cleaning but latex has some amazing uses. Like this amazing cleaning pad. This Natural Latex Scour Pad is made with a blend of natural latex and coconut fiber. It works great on your dishes and for reaching those hard-to-clean nooks and crannies in and around your house. At the end of its life, simply toss this eco-friendly sponge in your compost bin as this sponge is made with 100% plant-based materials.
This sponge is made from coconut husk fibers which is usually a waste product after coconut production. It is pressed into a square mold to look like your regular sponge. Latex and cotton are used to bind the different materials together so you have one side for gentle cleaning of your dishes and one side for scrubbing dirt from pots and pans. It is great for scrubbing your dishes while also being scratch safe for your pans and stovetop.
Another amazing natural material that can be used to make sponges is walnuts! This unique and powerful sponge is great to keep your kitchen clean. This double-sided sponge with one side is super absorbent while the other is rough for those dishes or other heavy-duty cleaning situations that usually take a lot of work. You can use these sponges even if you are allergic as these sponges are completely free from allergens.
This organic, compostable sponge is great for daily dishes. They are hand-knitted and eco-friendly as they are made from 100% natural materials. These hemp sponges are a great alternative to those plastic or metal sponges that continue to pollute the planet. They are strong enough to clean your dishes but gently enough to not scratch your expensive pans or countertops. Hemp is amazing as it doesn’t absorb smells but if you ever feel like your hemp sponge needs a wash, just pop them into your washing machine to make them as good as new.
Contrary to most plant-based sponges, these sponges are not pressed into a mold to turn them into a sponge. Loofah is a type of gourd with a porous spongy interior. It looks and grows similar to cucumbers and multiple sponges can be harvested from a plant each season.
Loofah sponges are surprisingly sturdy and are great for both dishes as well as in the shower.
Did you know that a sponge is an animal? They are just a couple of cells big and live on rocks in the ocean. These Captain Blankenship Sea Sponges are sustainably harvested. These self-regenerating animals live in the Atlantic Ocean and only the outermost portion of the sponge is harvested to ensure healthy and sustainable regrowth of the sponge. As these sponges are animals, you might think that harvesting a sponge is painful to them. This is not true as they have no nerve cells meaning it is similar to them what a haircut would be like for us. These types of sponges are non-toxic, hypoallergenic, compostable, and contain natural enzymes that slow the growth of mold, bacteria, and mildew to ensure you can use them for as long as you would like. Making them great to be used in both your kitchen as well as in the bathroom
A silk sponge is very similar to a sea sponge with only a few small differences. Just like the sea sponge, the silk sponge is an animal and they are harvested similarly. The difference is that a silk sponge prefers a warmer climate. These sponges are hand-cut close to the Philippine coast. They have much more pores but these are much smaller compared to the sea sponge. This makes a silk sponge a lot softer compared to the sea sponge (hence the name silk sponge). A silk sponge is 100% organic, allergy-friendly, and robust so it may serve you for many years. Keep in mind that sponges are a natural product so the size and shape you receive with your purchase may vary.
Jute dish brush
Do you want something that is unique, powerful, but also eco-friendly to help you around your kitchen? This Coconut and Jute Dish Brush from Full Circle Home may just be what you have been looking for. This plastic-free and completely plant-based cleaning brush are made from sturdy coconut husks and jute fiber. These bristles are strong enough to lift and remove food and grease from pans, pots, and dishes. The best part? When its lifecycle is over you can simply compost it.
Dish Brush Head
These brush heads are a great compostable alternative to regular sponges or brushes. They can be fastened to a dish brush handle if you prefer but they can also be effectively used on their own. The bristles are made of stiff plant fibers to make scrubbing down anything easy but are soft enough to not scratch glass dishes. To clean your brush simply put it in boiling water for a couple of minutes and it is good to go again.
Bamboo Bottle Brush
As bamboo is naturally antibacterial it is great to use in brushes. Combine it with sturdy coconut and you have the perfect brush for any type of bottle like baby bottles, jars, water bottles, vases, and any other hard-to-clean glassware. This brush is compostable and biodegradable making it a great addition to your zero-waste kitchen.
As you could read, there are lots of compostable sponge alternatives to your regular plastic sponge. It is just a matter of figuring out which you like best.