3 Reasons: Why Loofahs are the Most Sustainable Sponge

Posted by Kendra Sutherland on

Why does a sustainable sponge matter? 

Every year, approximately 400 plastic sponges will be thrown away in the US alone. That amounts to 1.5 million CU of waste per year. Most conventional sponges are made with plastics like nylon and polyurethane. As you scrub you use the sponge, tiny bits of the plastic break off and are released into our waterways. These tiny bits of plastic are known as microplastics.  In a 2019 study from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography there are an estimated 8.3 million pieces of microplastics per cubic metre of water. This brings us to our first reason that loofah sponges are the most sustainable sponges….

1: They are plant-based

Unlike most conventional plastic based sponges, natural loofah sponges are 100% biodegradable. Loofahs are actually the dried fruit of the luffa vine. The loofah sponge grows on the vine until it produces seed and dries completely. Once it is completely dry on the vine, the dried fruit is harvested and the outer shell is removed leaving behind a fibrous skeleton that is hard when dry and soft when wet. 

Conventional sponges with a scouring pad are assembled with a glue made of moisture-cured polyurethane (more micro-plastics!). They are also then packaged in plastic as well.

In contrast, as long as the natural loofah sponge you use is not assembled with any additional plastic thread, cloth, tags or cords, it is 100% biodegradable and can be composted in your home compost. For this reason, Qucurby Sponges are completely plastic free, made with organic cotton thread and cord so you can  just toss it in your compost when you feel it has reached the end of its usable life! Qucurby Sponges are packaged exclusively in cardboard or paper packaging! 

For the Plant Nerds! 

There are two main species of the Luffa vine, including Luffa aegyptiaca, and Luffa acutangula, differing mainly in the shape of the fruit. Both species are considered gourds from the Cucumber or Cucurbitaceae plant family: the same family as squash, watermelon and other gourds. All loofah sponge fruits can be eaten when young. Egyptian, and Vietnamese cultures have cultivated the loofah sponges for centuries. Even Synagogues from the Byzantine era, feature the plant on their walls (4th Century BC). 


2: Loofahs can be grown in 1 season!

Ok, so what about cellulose sponges!? Cellulose sponges are plant-based too, right? It’s true, cellulose sponges are plant-based. However the energy and resources required to produce cellulose far exceeds what is required to produce a loofah sponge. Take a look at this video that explains how cellulose is produced. 

From harvesting young Eucalyptus or Populus trees, to transporting them to the factory, where the wood is shredded then digested/boiled to remove the lignon,   producing cellulose requires significant resources. Cellulose production also requires chemical softeners, bleach, and dye. See table comparison below. 

Cellulose is an amazing invention and product, but for how much effort it requires, it is not sustainable to use it for a household object that lasts about 1 month on average. Additionally, Qucurby sponges last 3-5 times longer than a conventional sponge since they dry out more quickly and therefore never get slimy or smell funky. 

Loofah Vs. Cellulose 

Loofah Sponge

Typical Cellulose Sponge

Growth Time

8 months

6 years

Water to Grow

< 1 gallon/week

5-10 gallons of water per week

Equipment Req’d to harvest


Tree harvester, wood chipper, large wood digester

Land Required

3 SF

80 SF

Equipment to process after harvest


Cellulose Factory


3: Loofahs support small-scale farms and farmers

By purchasing and using natural loofahs, you are supporting the livelihood of farmers and preserving farmland. Farms can offer habitat to insects and wildlife as well as provide corridors for wildlife. If you purchase loofahs from Qucurby Sponges, you are supporting small-scale farms and craftspeople that grow, process and sew the sponges for your use. 


Loofah sponges can be grown in one growing season, supporting agricultural land and communities, and can be composted in a home compost making them the most sustainable scrubbing sponge on the market.  



  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luffa_aegyptiaca
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luffa_acutangula

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_Empire

  • http://www.madehow.com/Volume-5/Sponge.html#ixzz82d9BHmD0

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnpY4iVY-F4
  • https://www.brushwithbamboo.com/blog/how-to-dispose-natural-and-plastic-loofahs/#:~:text=Loofahs%20will%20decompose%20in%2030,stay%20on%20top%20of%20it.
  • https://patents.google.com/patent/US3131076A/en
  • https://conservationtools.org/guides/147-why-preserve-farmland#:~:text=They%20provide%20a%20host%20of,has%20decimated%20America's%20agricultural%20lands.

  • https://zerowasteoutlet.com/blogs/zero-waste-dad-blog/how-sustainable-are-non-plastic-loofahs#:~:text=Yes!,hundreds%20of%20years%20to%20decompose

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