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Your next plastic-free swap: reusable sponges

So you’ve tried reusable beeswax food wraps and reusable makeup pads, but what’s next? Reusable sponges.

Did you know most sponges are actually made of plastic? Every time you use them, tiny bits of plastic are released into the water and make their way into the ocean. Plus once you’re finished with it, it will just sit in a landfill for hundreds of years! All in all not a great way to wash the dishes.

This is where reusable sponges come in.

Panda reusable sponge

What are reusable sponges made of?

Reusable sponges are 100% plastic free! There are two sponges per pack – one scrubby sponge and one soft sponge. Each sponge features a pretty printed cotton side and five layers of bamboo filling. Bamboo is naturally antibacterial and super absorbent so is the perfect centre.

The scrubby sponge then has a layer of hessian on top of this which is made from recycled coffee sacks so you may get a slither of text or imagery on the back of your sponge. This just adds to the character and saves the coffee sacks from landfill too! The soft sponge has a layer of cotton towelling on the back for gently wiping clean surfaces and crockery. Each sponge has a ribbon loop at the top to hang them up when you’re not using them. The ribbon is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles – how cool is that?!

One soft sponge and one scrubby sponge per pack

How do you look after them?

Reusable sponges are designed to last a long time if they’re well cared for. Use them the same as a regular sponge when you’re doing the washing up or cleaning surfaces but remember to hang them up between uses. Reusable sponges are more absorbent than regular sponges so it’s important they are given time to drain properly.

Lighthouse reusable sponge

When they’re ready for a freshen up just chuck them in with a regular load of laundry then hang them out to dry after. They can also be washed in the top drawer of the dishwasher, though they will need extra drying time if cleaned this way. Please note that the printed cotton fabric may begin to fade slightly over time if it’s washed at high temperatures. As the sponges are made of all natural materials, they’re 100% compostable! Once the sponges reach the end of their life, chop them up into strips and add to your compost heap.

Penguin reusable sponge

Sound good? Click the pictures to be taken to the reusable sponges product pages to give them a go!

Banana reusable sponge
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5 easy ways to be more eco-friendly in the kitchen

The news is full of stories about climate change and it can be very frightening.

However if everyone made small changes to their everyday life then it could make a huge difference to the future of our planet. I’m by no means an environmental expert but here are some tips to help make your kitchen a bit more eco-friendly.

1a. Reduce single use plastic – loose fruit and veg

Everyone knows the amount of plastic floating around the oceans and sitting in landfills is super bad news. Once you start thinking about single use plastic you see it everywhere! An easy way to reduce your plastic intake is to buy your fruit and veg loose instead of prepacked. Many of the supermarkets are now offering plastic free choices for their fruit and veg which is great news. Better yet, why not shop at your local greengrocer and support a small business.

eco friendly plastic free shopping

1b. Reduce single use plastic – weigh shop

As well as fruit and veg you can buy all sorts of your store cupboard essentials without plastic. Pasta, rice, dried fruit, spices, pulses and much more can be found at weigh shops. You can bring your own containers to fill up with as much or as little as you need so it helps prevent food waste too. These are popping up all over the country now so keep an eye out for one coming to your town soon. If you live around Newcastle Upon Tyne I recommend Buy the Kilo in Tynemouth (pictured), the Weigh House and Nil Living in the Grainger Market, The Little Refill Shop in Seaham and The Honey Tree in Heaton.

Buy the Kilo eco friendly plastic free shopping

1c. Reduce single use plastic – bring your own containers

It’s great to see that lots of the supermarkets are now encouraging this. Instead of buying prepackaged meats and cheese, you can take your own container to the butcher and deli counter at larger supermarkets. This prevents the use of plastic trays which are difficult to recycle. Plus the choice of cheese at the counter is much bigger than off the shelf, and the meat tastes fantastic.

2. Eco friendly cleaners

Have you ever thought about the amount of harsh chemicals that are released into the environment from cleaners? Or the amount of plastic you have stored in your cleaning cupboard? Thankfully there are now lots of options for more eco friendly cleaning products. One of the biggest names in eco friendly cleaning is Ecover. This brand is widely available and is often found in refillable shops too. I also thought the “doesn’t cost the earth” range by Wilko is good as it’s all made from sustainable plant ingredients and packaged in 100% recycled bottles. Plus their washing up liquid is one of the only washing up liquids that doesn’t irritate my skin.

To reduce waste even more you can fill up your cleaning products at a refill shop. Again these are becoming much more common so you may already have one near you without knowing about it. I use the concentrated cleaning gel from Alternative Stores which is just around the corner from me. You dilute the gel at home with water and a little goes a really long way so it actually works out far cheaper than ready made cleaning products! If you’re in Newcastle Upon Tyne there’s also the One World Shop that offers refills as well as Buy the Kilo, Nil Living and The Little Refill Shop mentioned earlier.

3. Freeze leftovers

The amount of food waste produced in the world is just crazy. Over 1/3 of all food produced globally goes to waste. This is such a simple issue for you to tackle at home. Meal plan what you’re going to eat for the week then just buy the food for those meals and snacks. Then if you have any food left over from your meal don’t throw it out! Use a tupperware or a glass jar to freeze your leftovers for a really quick meal for another day.

4. Find plastic alternatives

Take a look through your kitchen cupboards and fridge. What items could you swap to be packaged in something other than plastic? I’ve switched to milk in returnable glass bottles from a local farmer, cola in cans instead of plastic bottles, and mixer drinks in glass bottles instead of plastic. (For any dark and stormy fans Belvoir’s ginger cordial that comes in a glass bottle is divine.) These were really simple switches that have reduced my plastic use hugely.

Interesting fact about aluminium – did you know that there is no limit to the amount of times aluminium can be recycled? This makes it the most recyclable of all the materials. Plus the energy that’s saved by recycling one aluminium can is enough to power a TV for three hours!

5. Ditch the cling film

Of course I couldn’t make a blog post about an eco friendly kitchen without mentioning beeswax wraps. These fantastic creations have completely changed my kitchen habits. Instead of wrapping bowls and food in cling film, use a beeswax wrap instead.

Cling film can’t be recycled so every piece that was ever made is now sitting in a landfill or polluting our oceans. Beeswax wraps are reusable, much prettier than cling film, and can be composted at the end of their life. To find out more about the beeswax wraps, check out this blog post.

Drawn by Rhiannon beeswax food wraps fabric

You can also take your beeswax wrap to the cheese counter and take your chunk of cheese home wrapped in the lovely fabrics.

To shop the full range of reusable beeswax food wraps, click on the pictures above or click here.

If you have any more tips about how to make your kitchen more eco friendly or if you want to recommend an eco friendly shop near you, comment below!