I've been on the zero waste journey for a few years now and I am by no means near that elusive 100% zero waste, I-can-fit-a-years-worth-of-trash-in-a-tiny-mason-jar. That is an awesome goal to have, but realistically, I don't know how close I will ever be to that ideal.
That's not to say I am not trying, I just know the limitations I currently have with where I live, the plastic culture surrounding the stores I have access to, being one half of a two person household, etc, etc. But I do feel progress is being made, little by little, and I have seen our trash decrease significantly! Generally, we only have to wheel down our can maybe once a month if there was a home demo project or if something smelly like a meat packet has taken up residence in the bottom of the bin.
One of the things I have been trying hard to replace with a more sustainable alternative has been our sponges. I swear I have gone through like 10 different products trying to find one that is eco-friendly, doesn't come wrapped in plastic, actually works, that both Arlen and I enjoy using.... It's been a challenge to say the least.
But I may have found a solution, and I am kind of astonished that it works: the Unsponge.
You may be wondering what an unsponge is, and I am here to tell you. An Unsponge is simply a reuseable sponge made from fabric, generally terry cloth.
For my DIY, I won't be using terry cloth. Instead, I'll be utilizing something a bit more sturdy that actually scrubs! Are you ready to get started and make your own?
- 2 pieces of sturdy, well wearing fabric cut out to 4.5" x 6"
- 1 piece of a textured fabric cut out to 4.5" x 6"
- A bit of pillow stuffing
- Fabric Scissors
- Sewing Machine (Threaded with matching threads)
- Hand sewing needle & thread (Optional)
- Small screw driver, point turner, or chopstick
- Coffee or Tea for added comfort!
Let's Get Started!
So you might be wondering what I mean by "textured" fabric listed in the supplies section. By textured fabric I mean something akin to an open weave burlap sack. Something that is heavy duty and when you touch it, you just know it can handle a good scrubbing.
If you want to keep things 100% compostable/ biodegradeable for the future demise of your sponge (it's bound to grow tired one day!), then opt for something made of 100% natural fibers.
However, if you don't have anything readily available like that, why not try using some of that really stiff tulle that most of us have lying around? No one knows where it comes from or what to use it for, but it is always there and we might as well use it to our advantage!
You could even grab some of that material that holds citrus fruits- it's the perfect thing to reuse for scrubbing pots and pans as it's super scratchy. I'd just suggest possibly doubling up on the material if you are going to use it.
Once everything is cut out, we can get right in to assembling our unsponge, aka mini-dish-scrubbing-pillow.
Place one of your main fabric pieces on the surface in front of you with the right side facing up.
Next, place your scrubby textured fabric on top of your main fabric piece. The side of this shouldn't matter, but if you happen to have a special fabric with a right and wrong side, make sure the right side is facing you just like with your first piece.
Last, place your second piece of main fabric on top of the scrubby fabric, this time making sure that the wrong side is facing you. You should now have a nice scrubby fabric sandwich!
Sew around the outer edges of your unsponge using a 1/2" (1.3 cm) seam allowance. Make sure you leave ~2" (5 cm) opening along one of the short ends of your unsponge, that way you can turn it out later.
Clip your corners.
Turn your unsponge right side out.
If you'd like extra sharp corners, feel free to use a point turner, small screw driver, or even a chopstick to get into those corners to push them out!
Now it's time to stuff your sponge! Again, if you want a full compostable sponge, opt for a stuffing made from natural materials such as wool or cotton. If you don't have any of that lying around, feel free to use stuffing from an old pillow or even scraps of fabric (though your sponge may turn out a tad heavy in the hand).
When stuffing your unsponge, make sure that you overstuff it a bit. As you use your sponge, the stuffing will gradually get squished down from use.
Also, make sure you aren't stuffing between your scrubby layer and fabric layer-- like I did once!-- and are instead stuffing between your two fabric layers!
Once your unsponge is all stuffed, go ahead and pin it's opening closed.
You can now sew this opening close either by hand if you want a nice invisible finish, or by machine for a speedy finish!
YAY! You have made your first unsponge and are one step closer to achieving #zerowaste goals! You should totally go test it out to see how you like it- I LOVE my own. So much, in fact, that I actually made a bunch and now have a sponge in every room that utilizes one (Bathroom, kitchen, laundry, etc...)