Q. Dear Umbra,

I couldn’t find a lot of information on the environmental impact of melamine sponges (like the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser). I mostly use cellulose sponge cloths for cleaning, but sometimes when I’m pressed for time and guests are coming over, those Magic Erasers call out to me. As amazing as they are, I’m assuming they’re not great for the environment since they are not biodegradable and end up getting washed down the sink (and likely going into the ocean). I know it’s not safe for melamine to be in our food (I’ve read about it being found in baby formula and causing kidney failure and whatnot). Can you tell us just how much harm we are doing by using these sponges?

Irvine, California