Grow your own sponges to cut down on plastic waste

You’ve probably used a loofah sponge at some point your life, whether in the bath or for cleaning around the house but did you know it was made from a vegetable? A new campaign from the National Trust wants to promote home grow sponges to cut down on plastic waste.

At North Waste Waste household waste is an issue we campaign to reduce so we wanted to find out more about a potential solution that every home can implement.

Knightshayes Estate

Over 80 volunteers at the Knightshayes estate in Devon decided to grow loofah plants in order to supply the kitchen with zero-waste cleaning utensils. The first crop has been successful and now being used by staff using the sponges to wash their mugs and dishes. While some sponges come from the sea, loofahs are grown from the Luffa cylindrica, a vine in the cucumber family. The team currently grow 30 fruit which once harvested and cut into pieces can produce around 50 sponges which will be sold by the team in the onsite shop. These are, the National Trust has said, very easy to grow and suitable for any garden, and are “the same as growing courgettes”. loofah sponge

How to grow your own sponge:

  • Sow seeds in April or May in a warm spot. A windowsill or frost-free greenhouse is the preferred solution.
  • Transfer to a large pot under cover (in a greenhouse or similar) for growing on. Fruit won’t achieve ripeness outdoors.
  • Once the fruit has matured and withered, squeeze to loosen the skin and then peel skin off completely to reveal the fibrous inner ‘skeleton’.
  • Wash the peeled fruit well to remove the seeds and flesh from the ‘skeleton’ and hang to dry.
  • Sainsbury’s cuts plastic and become the first major retailer to reduce plastic packaging on their fresh flowers.

    In a 12 week trial running across 167 stores nationwide Sainsbury’s will package more than one million fresh bouquets of flowers in recyclable paper and sealed with recyclable paper tape. The goal of the trial is to determine whether customer demand and experience of suppliers can manage the transition over a long term basis,

    How Are They Removing Plastic?

      To save over 10 tonnes of plastic than one million bunches and bouquets will use:
    • Recycled paper packaging in place of plastic sleeves
    • Paper tape in place of sticky tape

      It forms part of the British retailer’s commitment to reduce plastics by 50 per cent by 2025, across its food operations.

      Quoted from Judith Batchelar, director of Sainsbury’s “We are proud to be the first retailer to reduce fresh floral plastics on a significant scale, across 167 of our stores. Our customers have made it clear that they want us to reduce plastic packaging – developing a more sustainable solution to minimise plastic on fresh flowers is a further step in the right direction.

      Removing Plastic Bags

      To achieve this commitment, other developments over the coming weeks include the removal of plastic bags from the bakery, and the removal of plastic bags from fresh produce.

      From the 30th September all plastic bags for loose vegetables and fruit will be removed from online grocery deliveries a move which is set to save 180 tonnes of plastic.

      Shoppers will need to bring in their own containers or buy a reusable bags charged at 30p.The change will apply in all convenience stores and about 500 supermarkets with more to follow.

      Sainsbury’s isn’t the only supermarket implementing sustainability measures as last month Waitrose revealed it would trial a “bring your own” scheme in one of it’s London stores to encourage customers to buy and refill produce.

      The supermarket giant will begin selling items such as cereals and pasta in large dispensers as part of the concept, which it hopes will effectively reduce waste from plastic packaging.

      If you’re a business looking for help with your summer event waste management, don’t hesitate to get in touch with North West Waste to learn more about what we do.

    570,000 hermit crabs die from plastic rubbish

    Over half a million tiny hermit crabs have been trapped and killed by the massive amounts of plastic debris on two remote island chains in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The tragic mass mortality event has researchers fearing the worst on a global scale.

    The discovery of 570,000 dead hermit crabs in the Indian Ocean’s Cocos (Keeling) Islands and the Pacific Ocean’s Henderson Island is just the latest sign of the growing crisis of plastic waste polluting our oceans, posing a grave threat to wildlife.

    hermit crab plastic Other heart wrenching casualties include scenes of straws stuck in the nostrils of turtles, sperm whales found with pounds of plastic garbage in their guts and now the latest to join the casualty because of the nonchalance exhibited by humans are hermit crabs, unable to get out of the plastic bottles once they find their way inside, hoping for a tasty treat.

    Hermit crabs are not born with their own shells, searching for new shells each time they outgrow one. When one of them dies in a plastic container, it emits a smell to tell others that a shell is available, unknowingly luring more creatures to their untimely deaths, creating a “gruesome chain reaction.”

    How Does This Affect Us?

    The blow to hermit crabs could be the start of a nasty chain reaction impacting marine life.

    Crabs play crucial roles in tropical ecosystems, aiding in forest growth and development through the soil. Reductions in crabs may significantly impact plant expansion, scientists said.

    In addition to forming an important part of maritime food chains, the scavengers also help clean island beaches and tropical forests while breaking down organic matter, spreading nutrients by aerating and fertilizing the soil, and dispersing seeds.

    Don’t Let Go – Balloon Releases On The Environment

    Sourced from:

    If you haven’t seen this image on your social media timeline it is only a matter of time before you do. The Ministry of Environment and Housing have posted this image highlighting the impact of plastic and balloons being released into the environment.

    A local traditions at memorials, schools, weddings, and other events balloon releases are something we have all done but have you ever considered the impact this can cause?

    The Impact On Our Environment

    Balloons that are released outside have end up somewhere, usually this is caught up in tree branches or electrical wiring.

    Balloons that are not properly disposed of end up in the ocean and along coastal areas, becoming marine debris. This debris can be mistaken for food and eaten causing interal injury and potential death. The string attached to the balloons can also cause potential death as it wraps around marine wildlife and become entangled.

    The Solution?

    Instead of balloon releases you can instead have fun, celebrate, and remember with environmentally-friendly alternatives that The Ministry of Environment and Housing recommended.

    If however balloon releases is not avoidable then the MCSUK have guidelines for wildlife friendly balloon use including the following:

    • Let go of balloons indoors only
    • Fill the balloons with air not helium.
    • Use balloons made of natural rubber latex rather than foil balloons.
    • When tying balloons use natural cotton string rather than plastic ribbon.
    • Hand tie balloons rather than using plastic valves.

      Be a party pooper We all know reducing plastic in everyday life is easier said than done but something so simple as balloon releases can be an easy way to do your part. It may be just one balloon but to a critically endangered species of marine wildlife it could be their last meal.

    Halloween Waste – The Living Nightmare

    Halloween is a time for pumpkin carving, spooky costumes, trick-or-treating with the kids and overeating on chocolate and sweets until you feel the size of a pumpkin. But there’s a dark undertone to Halloween which is the excessive amount of waste that we produce.

    This year the UK alone will bin over 8 million pumpkins after the Halloween, a quantity which is equivalent to the entire nation having pumpkin pie to eat. This number would be even larger however a campaign #PumpkinRescue has an annual goal to reduce this number.


    Pumpkin Rescue uses everyone’s favourite spooky staple as a way to talk about the edible food we throw away and easy steps we can take to make the most of it instead.

    It’s a celebration of food that challenges preconceptions, teaches new skills and has some fun along the way.

    More information on how you can join the campaign can be found here:


    12,500 tons of Halloween costumes get sent to landfill each year perhaps this year consider creating your own costume. From metal juice lids to milk jugs, you’ll be surprised what recycled materials can be used to creative, classy Halloween costumes.

    If you simply don’t have the time to create a eco friendly costume consider donating them to your local charity shop so they can be used again next year.

    Check The Label

    Halloween props such as broomsticks and masks can become plastic waste however not all props are non recycable so check the label and potentially reduce your plastic waste. However DIY is far greener and more fun to create, using eco friendly felt to create bats or painting a wreath black to create a eerie masterpiece the possibilities are endless.

    If you’re a business looking for help with your summer event waste management, don’t hesitate to get in touch with North West Waste to learn more about what we do.


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