Tea bags might just seem like paper and tea leaves to you. At least, that's what I thought they were for the first 23 years of my life. Would you believe me if I told you they don't fully degrade, seep toxins into our tea, and release methane that warms our entire planet?
While a small tea bag seems too small to make any big difference, it turns out the 7.5 billion people on the planet like to drink tea. In Britain alone, 370,000 tonnes of tea bag waste goes to landfill each year according to the Waste Resource and Action Programme.
So why are tea bags hurting our planet?
1. Tea bags are made of paper and tea leaves. When they rot in landfill, they release methane into the atmosphere. Methane is 25x stronger than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, and has a loooooot of power.
2. Tea bags are mostly made of paper, but 30% of each bag is non-biodegradable due to heat-resistant plastic used to prevent the tea bag from opening in boiling water. The toxins inside plastic transfer, or leach, into our tea and we drink them down like nothing! That's terrifying!
Okaaaaay, so how can I help?
1. COMPOST 'EM (70% zero waste)
Composting your teabags in your garden is awesome! It prevents tea bags from going to landfill, helps rejuvenate the soil, and the paper eventually breaks down. There's only one problem: the 30% of plastic in tea bags will remain in your garden forever.
2. LEARN TO LOVE LOOSE LEAF (100% zero waste)
For 100% plastic free tea you will need to use loose leaf tea and your own personal tea infuser. Loose leaf can be bought in bulk, or in paper or metal tins that can be recycled. Buying bulk is completely zero waste though ;)
I have a metal infuser that goes great with my minimalistic kitchenware- and it can be 100% recycled if I ever decide I hate it (yeah, right). But I also have a silicone seahorse infuser that I adore because it reminds me of the ocean.
Zero Waste Healing Tea Recipe
Loose leaf black tea (1 infusion)
Raw ginger (1 slice)
Tumeric (1 dash)
How to make it Zero Waste
Tea is bought in bulk
Tumeric jar is glass
Tumeric lid is cork
Compost the ginger + lemon
Honey jar is glass
Honey lid is metal
If every tea-drinker made their cup this way instead of using a bag, we could make a massive difference in emissions, plastic, and landfill waste.
Be intentional. Be the change.