Natural brown sea sponge with towel, toothbrush and soap in the background.

Are natural sponges ethical?

Natural sea sponges (not to be confused with a loofah or plant-based sponge) are very eco-friendly, as we will explain below. But what about ethically? When it comes to harvesting an ethical bath sponge, ethical principles such as supporting the workers, community, and traditional methods are just as important as ensuring the process is good for the environment.

At Naroa, we pride ourselves on using an ethical and eco-friendly method that’s passed down through generations of sponge sea divers – it’s not too dissimilar to how the Ancient Greeks gathered sea sponges either!

Making an eco-friendly bath sponge

Natural sponges for bathing are a sustainable resource, as well as being natural and biodegradable. When we harvest our natural sponges, we start by training our divers to only harvest sponges above a minimum size requirement. This allows new and small sponges to grow and spread effectively, thus maintaining the sponge population for future generations.

Once our divers have located sponges of the right variety and size for skincare, they begin cutting them at the base, just above the root. This allows for the sponges to regrow, which studies have shown can actually help the sponge become healthier than before, which helps to keep the sponge population disease-free. It’s just like how certain trees and shrubs grow back stronger and more verdant after they have been pruned.

Lastly, when our divers are processing the sponges, the initial clean (a rinse to remove the outer part of the sponge) is completed with sea water on the boats right after they are harvested. This allows the water to drain right back into the sea rather than being pushed through land-based treatment plants unnecessarily.

As for the lifecycle once they become skincare sponges, sea sponges are very long-lasting. This is true when compared to loofahs, wood fiber sponges, and plastic alternatives which must be disposed of after a few weeks of use. All you need to do is a light or deep clean between uses. Furthermore, once the sponge has completely broken into pieces and is no longer usable, it is entirely biodegradable and can even go on your home compost heap.

Ethical considerations

So, sea sponges are eco-friendly. But are these natural sponges ethical?

This really depends on the brand you choose when you purchase a sea sponge. There are numerous places around the world where sea sponges are harvested, including the Mediterranean Sea and the seas of Japan. At Naroa, we harvest our sponges from the Caribbean Sea and ensure that we work with local, coastal communities.

We believe that an ethical and sustainable approach to harvesting sea sponges is the best approach. We want to ensure that the generations of the future can continue enjoying these glorious skincare products, as well as the natural reefs and marine life that rely on sponges to thrive. 

But it’s more than that. Harvesting sea sponges for cosmetic and cleaning purposes has been a practice since the time of the Ancient Greeks – we hope that by continuing the tradition of hand-cutting sponges, we can preserve a little bit of history and culture too.

Choose an ethical sea sponge from Naroa

Now that you know just how eco-friendly and ethical a natural sea sponge can be, it’s time to select one for your skincare routine. At Naroa, we harvest three types of sea sponge for their skin benefits – one for exfoliation, one for soothing your skin, and one for massaging your whole body.

Learn about the benefits of these sponges and more in the Naroa ethical sea sponge shop.
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