We are currently working with over 30 farmers in Pohnpei and sell sponges both in the United States & internationally.One of the more unique products that have been researched and developed by MERIP are farmed natural sponges. Work began on farming sponges in Pohnpei as early as the 1940’s and Mr. Richard Croft, a modern pioneer of sponge farming in the region, continued this activity. MERIP has refined sustainable farming practices for the Micronesian Wool sponge (Cosinoderma matthewsi), which is used as a bathing product, and has developed farming methods for a smaller, finer sponge (Spongia matamata), which is used for facial exfoliating. MERIP currently works with over 30 farmers in Pohnpei who grow both types of sponges. Wool and matamata sponges occur widely in the sheltered lagoons of Micronesia, which make ideal locations to grow them. Once they are established, the mid-water farms used for growing sponges are cheap and easy to set-up with little to no maintenance costs, other than labor. Initially, large wild sponges are sustainably collected from the lagoon, so that the remaining portion will regenerate. The harvested portion is then cut into smaller pieces which are transferred to a hanging farm. A portion of these sponges are set aside to use as future cutting stock. Unlike other natural sponge processing procedures, that use harsh chemicals, sponges processed at MERIP are cleaned using only a household washing machine and detergent, making our sponges a truly green product. Most sponges produced are sold in New Zealand to a sustainable products company, Trade Aid. They are one of only two companies in New Zealand who are members of the World Fair Trade Organization and all of their products adhere to the principles of fair trade. Both types of sponges are also sold to companies locally and in Hawaii and Texas, USA.
Beautiful Pohnpeian Bath and Facial Sponges are sold worldwide through a network of ethical wholesalers who retail organic and sustainably made natural products.