"It started with me wanting to replace my kitchen sponge every day, every week. I was just tossing them out. I knew how wasteful it was. It's made out of plastic foam and the plastic foam is one of the plastics that doesn't degrade."
Santillan knew that wasn't good for the environment and started the Naked Earth Project, selling Eco-friendly sponges. Each sponge is made from natural materials.
"It's a little different from regular kitchen sponges. It's made out of biodegradable material. The jute degrades and fertilizes the soil. Gourd and hemp also degrade in less than a year. If you're into composting the whole sponge degrades in a year."
The Naked Earth Project has both kitchen sponges and sponges for the shower like a loofah.
Santillan has been able to grow her idea at Fresno State's Hatchery Program by utilizing mentors and research. She's also looked into making a subscription box to sell her product to help reach people.
"I've always been passionate about the environment-- that was my drive, you can't contribute to plastic waste, you can't be hurting the environment."
Going green is a trend that local restaurant Raw Fresno supports. The sponges are sold there.
Naomi Hendrix of Raw Fresno said, "It goes along with what we believe here, to be green and sustainable. Enjoy and love the planet as much as possible."
They're also proud to support a student with a big vision.
The sponges range in price from $6 to $10, and Santillan recommends replacing them once a month.
You can find the sponges at Top Drawer in Northwest Fresno or at Raw Fresno in Downtown Fresno. Santillan hopes her green project will reach people nationwide.
It's a sponge made from natural materials, it's biodegradable, and when you toss it out, it fertilizes the soil.