Squeeze Unsponges from Rowen Stillwater
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Product Review: Eco-friendly Sponges

This product review is all about eco-friendly sponges to use when washing up or cleaning the bathroom. In shop, you find three different types of washable and reusable sponges from Rowen Stillwater (Unsponges, heavy duty and Coffee Sponge) and loofahs from Goldrick Natural Living.

What are they?

Reusable and compostable sponges are a great alternative for the yellow and green plastic cleaning sponges many of us use in the kitchen or bathroom. In my shop, I have two alternatives that will clean your dishes without harming the environment:

  1. Reusable sponges made from natural fabrics that can be washed in the washing machine and reused many times. These generally replace the yellow ‘spongey’ part of the sponge.
  2. Loofahs, that have a bit more scrubbing power, are an alternative for green scourers.

At the end of their useful life, they can be cut up and composted. Fabric sponges can also be added to textile recycling.

How do they work?

Fabric sponges and loofahs work exactly like their plastic alternatives. Loofahs will look a bit flat and small in the packaging but puff up once submerged in water.

What are they made of?

Fabric sponges are often made from different materials, including cotton, linen, bamboo and/or cellulose.

Loofahs are made from the fibre of a plant that belongs to the cucumber family and is native to Mexico.

What are the pro and cons?

Fabric sponges can go into the washing machine for a clean and can be used many times over, using fewer resources and reducing waste. Natural sponges don’t get as dirty and smelly as plastic ones and don’t need to be replaced as often.

I would suggest to avoid cleaning knifes and other sharp objects (e.g. graters) with fabric sponges. Small tears in the fabric will slowly get bigger until the sponge needs to be replaced. This is not so much of an issue with loofahs as small tears in the fibre are hardly noticeable.

What makes them eco-friendly?

The main reason reusable sponges are more eco-friendly is the fact that they don’t shed microplastics. They also have a lower carbon footprint as they are made from natural materials and not petroleum. In addition, fabric sponges also have a lower material footprint. At the end of their lives, all of them can be composted, which means that they won’t sit in landfills for hundreds of years or release toxic chemicals when burned.

Who makes them?

The majority of reusable sponges are made by small businesses in the UK, such as Rowen Stillwater and Tabitha Eve. The sponges from Rowen Stillwater have very similar features to plastic sponges, in that they are flexible and foamy.

Loofah scouring pads on the other hand are typically made in China, but by buying from ethical brands (such as Goldrick Natural Living and LoofCo) you can be sure they have been produced under fair conditions and to a high standard.

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