Sustainable Scrubbies!

ikeabrushes.jpgA while back I posted about my search for a solution to scrubbing pots and pans the eco-friendly way. I had been using plastic dish brushes for years – I liked these Ikea ones the best. But they are plastic, and they are only good for about 3 months tops, then they get all gross and I end up tossing them in the garbage. I realized one day that this is just not right – 3 months of use and it will sit in a landfill for a thousand years or more! And what a waste of resources and energy to make such a thing! And so the search was on…

I have a whole bunch of dishcloths and I started using those. But I found them a bit cumbersome when wet, especially when you’ve got a little spot here and a little spot there that you wish to scrub. They also weren’t really “scratchy” enough.

woopads.jpgI sometimes buy wool scrub pads from the store. Supposedly they are 100% wool, but they are loaded up with some kind of blue goo that foams when wet. I don’t know what’s in there, and that should be enough reason to feel bad about using them…and again with the resources and energy that goes into manufacturing, packaging, and shipping such a product.

Well, last night I felt like crocheting something so I decided to try an experiment. I made up a little swatch that was about the size of a scrubby, using some coarse wool given to me by my friend Ally over at OolaWoola. It’s the stuff of scratchy fisherman’s sweaters, and I thought it might work as a dish scrubby. Here’s what I came up with:
scrubby2.jpg

I whipped off two of these in no time at all, and I could play around with different crochet stitches when I got bored so they were fun to make. I did it while lying in bed watching some comedy show on CBC (one of two or three channels we get with our rabbit ears)(it wasn’t all that funny either, which reminded me why I don’t watch TV anymore).

Well today I put them to use and I’m very pleased so far. Sure, they aren’t quite as scratchy as the store-bought ones, but they’ve been effective nonetheless. I think I’d like them to be a little thicker, so I might make a larger swatch and fold it in half and sew it together. Or I might try crocheting with a double strand (can you even do this? you can with knitting so I’m guessing you can with crocheting). Also, wool has natural antibacterial properties which makes them particularly suitable for the task.

But the real bonus is the sense of pride and satisfaction I felt at being able to solve this little problem with my own two hands. I have enough of this wool to last me a lifetime of dishes, they are so easy and fun to make, and when I’m done with one I can throw it away knowing it will biodegrade and leave no chemical residues behind.

I think this little project is a great example of what sustainable living is all about. I mean, I used those plastic dish brushes for years and never gave any thought to where they came from or where they ended up. Once I did it just seemed like such a “Duh!” that they were ridiculous. How did our society get to the point where we spend money on something to scrub dirty dishes, something that uses up copious amounts of resources and energy to produce (a la Story of Stuff), package, and ship (and let’s not forget the marketing) and then gets tossed in a landfill a few weeks later to sit for all eternity? It makes me think that if we can just get people to start asking a few simple questions, it wouldn’t be so hard to start making real changes together.

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Categories: being green, Homemaking | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Sustainable Scrubbies!

  1. I recently read a good tip about scrubbers, which I now use happily…I fold up a strip of an old towel or whatnot, and slip it inside a piece of a saved onion/orange/etc mesh bag. Plastic, yes, but I feel good knowing I can reuse it for awhile before it gets tossed. Try it if you need a bit more “heavy-duty” scrubbing! Whenever I get one of these mesh bags with my produce I keep them now with my dishcloths. Maybe they can even be recycled after you’re done with them, but I’m not sure…

  2. I had heard about the scrubbiness of those plastic mesh bags too and have saved a couple for this purpose. I wonder if you could somehow crochet the plastic mesh in with the wool? Although probably that would be more trouble than it’s worth, when you can just use the wool scrubby or the mesh bag scrubby depending on the circumstances.

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