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An all-natural sponge? No we are not talking about the sea creature! At first glance you’d think it’s just a piece of squash, yet it is so much more!
Loofah (a.k.a. luffa) is a genus of tropical and subtropical vines in the cucumber (Cucurbitaceae) family. Originating from Asia it is now present all over the world. The young fruit resembles zucchini squash, and you can prepare and eat it similarly. Its beautiful yellow flowers look great in the garden or on the fence.
What distinguishes it from other squashes is its strong fibrous structure when fully ripened. This makes it excellent to use as a sponge. To create a useful kitchen tool one must fully dry, peel and wash the fruit to remove any seeds and other parts. The remaining fiber has been used countless ways in history: for example as insulation, as a filter on ships, for stuffing pillows, and of course for cleaning and skin care.
Why would I swap my plastic sponge for a loofah?
In a household sponges are essential, and sadly most of them are made of pastic. These are manufactured from mineral oil, and destined to become non-degradable waste quickly, as they cannot be composted or recycled. But this is only one part of the problem.
Have you noticed that as you use a plastic sponge it slowly gets smaller and smaller, and bits of it are going down the drain? These particles are called microplastics, and they are a contributing to huge problem we are only getting aware of in the last few years. Most wastewater-treatment facilities cannot filter out the smallest particles, which get into natural waters, and eventually into our diet as well. Plastic pollution has immense effects on wildlife and animals living in the ocean. Currently there’s about 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean, and 95% of these is smaller than a grain of rice. There are many sources of this pollution: microbeads in cosmetics, fragments of larger objects, microfibers from clothes, and of course: sponges.
If you want to alleviate this situation we have several articles that you might find useful. A step you can surely make is to swap out any plastic sponges in your household to loofahs or other natural soultions. A body loofah can also replace peeling products that often contain microbeads. This plant has proved its efficiency for more than a thousand years, and it made a comeback especially because it's a useful and eco-friendly tool to avoid plastic waste. You can easily compost it at home, and it is suitable for vegans as well!
Want to try it?
If you are an adventurous gardener, you can grow your own loofah plant, but that of course will take some time. For everybody else we have some excellent Loofah sponges from LoofCo for all your needs! You’ll find one for washing the dishes, cleaning, bath-time and exfoliation.
When you first touch a loofah, you’ll find it bit hard and abrasive, but don’t worry. When you dampen it with water it will soften tremendously. It is gentle on any surface and on your skin as well. It swells up from the water, so you can cut the piece in half if you fancy smaller sponges.
To make sure it stays clean and fresh for a long time take good care of your loofah! Always wash after use, squeeze out excess water, and hang it up to dry completely. Every once in a while sterilize with hot water, vinegar or with a tea tree oil solution.
Click here to buy your first loofah sponge!