The Irony Of The Kitchen Sponge
How long does a sponge last in your kitchen? Back when I used them, I went through at least one a month.
Do you know how long it takes for a polyester-polyurethane* sponge to breakdown once it’s in a landfill? Neither do I, but I’ve heard many people mention 52,000 years. While I can’t find any scientific verification of this number, I’m horrified to think all the sponges I’ve used in my lifetime will be sitting around for thousands of years.
Oh, the irony.
Ditch the sponge
Since they don’t hold up for long in the home, but last for what seems like forever in the landfill, I think it’s safe to say we’d be doing the planet a favor by avoiding sponges as much as possible. In case you need a little more convincing, “antibacterial sponges” are often impregnated with triclosan. While the effects of triclosan in the environment are not fully known at this time, it’s commonly acknowledged to be problematic for aquatic ecosystems.
What to use instead?
Dishcloths are probably the most commonly talked about alternative to sponges. I use them in my own kitchen and I love them. They’re easy to use and take care of, and they’re versatile! I use dishcloths as a paper towel replacement regularly. Some people like to buy crisp, new cloths (I have several of these dishcloths and I like their texture for scrubbing purposes). Others cut up old clothing into dishcloth-sized squares. There are lots of options!
Putting the dishcloth to use
Get some dishcloths. If you’ve decided to give them a try, you’ll need to accumulate enough so you don’t run out. It’s likely you’ll have one in use, more in the laundry, and some hanging out in the to-be-folded pile (or maybe that’s just where everything ends up in my house).
Keep them handy. Do you have a convenient drawer, shelf, or container to store them in? The easier it is to grab one, the better. A moment of honesty: I still haven’t found a good place for them in my small apartment kitchen, so I frequently catch myself grumbling while I search the clean laundry pile for a fresh one. Don’t do this to yourself!
Fit them into your laundry routine. You’ll need to figure out where they go when they’re ready to be washed. A wet bucket? Laundry basket? Another thing to consider is if you want to combine them in a load with other laundry items. And how often do you want to sanitize them?
Once you’ve figured these few things out, you’ll be well on your way to making an eco-positive change!
Do you use dishcloths? Send me an email, because I’d love to hear what you use!
*According to my informal research, polyester foam is what a soft sponge, typically used for dishwashing, is made of. The scrubby surface is polyurethane.