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.
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