The Plastic Purge: Sponges, scrubbers, and soap

Kitchen products hide a surprising amount of plastic in their ranks. We might be aware of the plastic in our Tupperware or in our bottles, but what about the things you use to clean? Many people use a variety of plastic items to clean, including sponges, scrubber brushes, soap in small plastic containers, and dishwasher detergent. These items are disposable and contribute plastic to our footprint. But are there really any good replacements for these items? 

It turns out there are! The common household sponge is usually made of plastic, but there are plenty of alternatives that have less negative impact on the earth. Many already use rags or small kitchen cloths to wash dishes. These are machine washable and can be made from cotton, hemp, or other natural fibers. If you want to stick to a sponge, try one sewn out of fabric, or try purchasing a natural sponge.  

An image of a copper coiled scouring padMost plastic sponge alternatives don’t include a scouring element. For those dishes that need a stronger scrubber, try a walnut or coconut scrubber pad. You can also switch to a copper or stainlesssteel scrubber but be careful using these on delicate or coated pans. 

Finally, there are plenty of options out there to replace a plastic scrubber brush! These can be replaced with a very similar product made from wood and natural fibers. Some even have replaceable heads, so instead of throwing away the brush, you can swap out the head. 

Soap is another source of disposable plastic in the kitchen cleaning process. Luckily, there are options to replace it as well! There are dishwashing soap bars, which use less plastic packaging. There has also been an increase in stores that provide the option to purchase liquid soap in refillable containers. Just like bulk foods, these stores allow you to bring in your own container to refill. This availability can vary from place to place, but often local co-ops will have soap refilling stations. 

Have you made any steps to reduce plastic use and plastic waste in the kitchen? What has worked or not for you? Let us know in the comments of this month’s Plastic Purge post here!