Generally, kitchen sponges are unrecyclable as they contain plastic.
However, if you use sustainable sponges made from 100% natural materials such as wood pulp, plant cellulose, etc., you can send them for recycling.
That said, most households use plastic-based sponges, as those are the ones readily available in grocery stores.
This means that, chances are, you also have the unrecyclable kind in your kitchen, so you should look for ways to repurpose it instead of sending it to a recycling station.
Recycling Kitchen Sponges
Typically, sponges are of two types
- Plastic sponges
- Cellulose sponges
Mostly, plastic sponges are used in homes, as they are easy to find. Besides, most people don’t know much about the perils of using a plastic sponge.
There is a lot of damage that comes from scrubbing dishes, pans, and pots with plastic sponges.
The growing mass of landfills is a serious environmental concern that needs to be addressed, but sadly nothing much is happening in that regard.
Consequently, most waste materials in landfills remain there for hundreds of years, and kitchen sponges are one of them.
When people throw their used kitchen sponge in the bin, it is shipped off to the massive dumpsites, where it stays indefinitely.
Another option for disposing of kitchen sponges is incineration, which poses a host of environmental problems.
When plastic sponges are incinerated, they release toxic gases into the environment, adding to the greenhouse effect.
Due to this, the earth’s temperature continues to rise, which adds to the problem of climate change.
Most users are unaware of the micro-plastic pollution that results from the use of plastic sponges, which is why they continue to use them.
A plastic-based kitchen sponge loses microfibers when it scrubs a dish or pan. These tiny particles entire the drainage water without getting filtered. Resultantly, they end up in the ocean and harm marine life.
Fish, whales, and other sea animals mistake the plastic fibers for food and consume them.
If the micro-plastic-contaminated water doesn’t reach the sea, it finds its way into the soil, which ruins the land’s fertility and damages crops.
Simply put, kitchen sponges are not easy to dispose of or recycle. This leaves us with two options.
- Purchase green alternatives to kitchen sponges
- Repurpose the ones we already have
Sustainable Alternatives to Kitchen Sponges
With the increasing awareness of environmental degradation, many eco-conscious companies have started putting out sustainable products.
Therefore, now you can buy eco-friendly scrubbing solutions in the market.
As the name implies, unsponges are nothing like your regular plastic-based sponges. They are made with all-natural cotton that lasts long.
On top of that, they are covered with a nylon mesh coating to make scrubbing easier. Some varieties contain recycled plastics, so they are not damaging to Mother Nature.
You can easily find this product online, especially on Etsy.
Another sustainable option that you can use in place of your regular kitchen sponge is a fabric dishcloth.
It is essentially a piece of clothing that doesn’t shed fibers while in use, nor does it need to be replaced every other month.
You can buy a dishcloth in the market or use old towels to do the job. It’s a much cheaper solution for dishwashing.
As mentioned above, cellulose sponges are the second type of sponges, but those are generally not used in kitchens.
Yet, you can easily find those in grocery stores once you promise to make better and greener product choices.
Moreover, it must be noted that cellulose sponges are entirely organic and are made with natural fibers. This means they are compostable.
So, if you use one, you can add it to your compost pile without worrying about damaging the soil.
Repurposing Kitchen Sponges
Now that we have covered the green alternatives to commonly used kitchen sponges, let’s go over how you can repurpose the old ones.
Use Them for Scrubbing Cars
At a glance, this idea may seem ludicrous, considering that a kitchen sponge is tiny in comparison to a car.
But when we say to use an old sponge to scrub cars, we don’t mean the entire vehicle from top to bottom.
We only wish to suggest that you clean the tricky nooks and crannies that are hard to reach otherwise. Points like the door frame or the place above the wheels are not easy to access or clean.
But if you have a small scrubbing material, such as a kitchen sponge, you can certainly clean all the difficult parts of your car.
Use Them for Cleaning Bathrooms
Again, we don’t want you to scrub entire bathrooms with a used kitchen sponge because that will not work.
We want you to clean some areas in your bathroom using an old plastic-based sponge, such as the sink or bathtub, especially if your bathroom fittings are white or light-colored.
Our tubs or basins can often become yellowish with time, but that doesn’t mean we can change them immediately.
In that case, you can use a sponge and scrub the yellow stains on your bathroom fittings and restore some of their former glory.
Use Them for Making Decoration Pieces
If you are creative, you can utilize old kitchen sponges to make unique décor items. Here is an example of how you can do it.
- Take a transparent jar and paint an underwater scene on it. In other words, using glass paints, make clouds, water, and aquatic greenery on the outside of your glass container.
- Cut up an old sponge into little pieces and soak them in paint. You can use any color you wish, but remember it needs to be earthy because you will be replicating stones with the sponge pieces.
- Once the cutouts are completely covered in paint, let them dry.
- Next, set them at the bottom of your jar haphazardly. This is an important point because you want to create a natural look, one without any dimension as such.
- So just scatter the pieces at the bottom of your glass container. Then pour sand grains till the point they completely settle around the spongy cutouts.
- You don’t want the sand to fill up the jar until the top or until the middle. You only need it to get into the space between the sponges.
- And voila, you have a glass container with an underwater scene.
- One additional step that you can do is drop some pearls around the cutouts. But be sure they rest against the wall of your jar so that they remain visible; after that, add the sand.
Making a decoration piece using old kitchen sponges may seem childish or even needless, but it’s a productive way to tackle plastic-based sponges.
Use Them for Arts And Crafts
If you have kids, you can entertain them using an old sponge and spend some quality time together.
Sponges can serve as excellent art tools for creating paintings. In fact, many schools teach students to work with one for artwork. So, you can do that too.
- Cut out the sponge you want to discard and let the kids have a few of the cutouts.
- Take a sheet and draw a scenery or ask your young ones to make one for the activity.
- Next, in a palette or dish, take out water paints. Pick up one piece and dab it in any of the colors you have taken out.
- Once your sponge is entirely covered in paint, press the colored side against the sheet to transfer the hue. Repeat the movement till the whole of the item in the picture is covered in paint.
- Let’s say you have mountains and trees on paper that you want to paint using a sponge. You will dip a cutout in green and begin coloring a tree. You will start from above the branches and make your way towards the top.
- Be sure not to drag the sponge along the page because you want your creation to have a porous look. So, press a piece in one spot, pick it up and place it on another point.
- Follow this procedure to color your drawing using different colors.
- You can use multiple colors one over another to paint just one item. This way, you will have a pretty picture with many layers of paint, which will give off different reflections at different angles under a light.
Try the activity mentioned above with your little ones to bond with them. Another benefit of doing it will be a collection of art pieces made by your kids that you can put up around the house.
You can even create an art wall dedicated to the artwork your children make.
It will be a win-win-win situation; you will use your kitchen sponges productively, spend quality time with your kids, and have their creations mounted (which will give them a sense of accomplishment).
Disposing of old plastic-based sponges cannot get better than this!
If you want to make the right choices to save the environment, you must be conscious of the products you use. And those include the yellow and green sponges you use in the kitchen to scrub the dishes.
Try to buy eco-friendly varieties and dispose of the old plastic ones in the best possible way to not damage Mother Nature.
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