Skip to main content

Carbon Sinks

Main Image
Earth and Environmental Sciences

In this activity, students will learn about carbon sinks and create tree-shaped cellulose sponges.

What You Need

Materials

  • Cellulose sponges or reusable towels (see resources below)
  • Scissors
  • Pen/markers for drawing shapes on sponges
  • Plastic mesh produce bags or a pair of tights

Resources for reusable materials

  • Original Biodegradable Handi Cellulose All Purpose Sponge from wells.ca
  • Original Kitchen Biodegradable Reusable Paper Towels from wells.ca
  • Large Cellulose Kitchen Sponges from Amazon.ca

Activity Guide: 

Safety Notes

Ensure you are familiar with Let's Talk Science's precautions with respect to safe virtual delivery to youth.

What To Do

  • Invite participants to take a sponge and cut it into the shape of a tree or leaf. They can trace a template onto their sponge or just freehand it.
  • Save the cut-off scraps and stuff them inside a small pouch made by knotting a produce bag or a length cut from a pair of tights. This turns these scraps into a dish scrubby or sponge ball (for bathing or as a kind of reusable water balloon). 

Discovery

What's Happening?

Why Cellulose Sponges?

Most sponges are made with plastic, which is a petroleum-based product that would be counterproductive to the purpose of this activity. Those sponges also release microplastics, which are a significant issue in waterways around the world. 

Cellulose products are made of wood pulp, not plastic, and are sometimes even made with waste or recycled materials. These sponges can also biodegrade in a compost pile. 

What's Happening?

Why Cellulose Sponges?

Most sponges are made with plastic, which is a petroleum-based product that would be counterproductive to the purpose of this activity. Those sponges also release microplastics, which are a significant issue in waterways around the world. 

Cellulose products are made of wood pulp, not plastic, and are sometimes even made with waste or recycled materials. These sponges can also biodegrade in a compost pile. 

Why Does It Matter?

All plants (but especially trees) act as carbon sinks by absorbing carbon dioxide out of the air and storing the carbon in their leaves and wood. Many human activities, like burning fossil fuels for industry and transportation, are carbon sources that add huge amounts of carbon dioxide to our atmosphere. Almost 65% of greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to carbon dioxide gas released from carbon sources. Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas, which contributes to global warming and climate change.

We can all combat climate change by making choices that put less carbon into the atmosphere, as well as protecting and promoting carbon sinks. These tree-shaped cellulose sponges are an environmentally-friendly cleaning option and a reminder of how trees are an important carbon sink. Using the scraps to make something useful is another way to demonstrate how we can make climate-friendly choices.

Why Does It Matter?

All plants (but especially trees) act as carbon sinks by absorbing carbon dioxide out of the air and storing the carbon in their leaves and wood. Many human activities, like burning fossil fuels for industry and transportation, are carbon sources that add huge amounts of carbon dioxide to our atmosphere. Almost 65% of greenhouse gas emissions are attributed to carbon dioxide gas released from carbon sources. Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas, which contributes to global warming and climate change.

We can all combat climate change by making choices that put less carbon into the atmosphere, as well as protecting and promoting carbon sinks. These tree-shaped cellulose sponges are an environmentally-friendly cleaning option and a reminder of how trees are an important carbon sink. Using the scraps to make something useful is another way to demonstrate how we can make climate-friendly choices.

Resources

Resources