Is there anything better than a warm cup of soothing tea? It’s safe to say at Greenhouse we get through A LOT of tea. We love to offer our visitors tea, have tea with cake, a cup of tea whilst brainstorming – the list is endless. When we’re done, we throw our tea bags in our composting bin before this is then fed to our in-house wormery.
What we’ve come to discover on our wormery journey is that not all tea bags are 100% biodegradable. Whilst you may think that tea bags are just leaves and paper, many of the big-name brands discreetly seal their bags with heat-resistant polypropylene. Polypropylene is bad news as it does not break down, meaning plastic particles end up in our soils.
“There is no reason why enjoying a cuppa should mean adding to our plastic waste problem,” Louise Edge, senior oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, told HuffPost UK. “Plastic-free alternatives already exist.”
Luckily, our worms are safe as our favourite tea brands use more natural processes to ensure one can enjoy a plastic-free tea. Here are our top picks:
A local Bristol favourite, Pukka Herbs’ tea bags are made from a special blend of natural abaca (a type of banana) and plant cellulose fibres. They use a simple stitch of organic cotton and a unique folding process to self-seal the teabags. What’s also great is that the tea bag strings are made from 100% organic, non-GMO, un-bleached cotton.
Abel and Cole
Already huge fans of organic food delivery service Abel and Cole, we were delighted to learn that their own-brand tea range is plastic-free. The tea bags are made from “SoilOn”, a corn-starch which incorporates biomass material (polylactic acid) originating from plants. Even better, they are 100% biodegradable and certified organic by The Soil Association.
Fellow certified B Corporation Yogi Teas package their herbal teas in high-quality manila hemp (abaca) fibers and wood pulp. Their tea bag filtration paper is oxygen bleached using a natural process that is free of chemicals or toxins, including dioxin.
Tea Pigs’ tea temples do not contain plastic. The pyramid-shaped bags and string are made from cornstarch – however, this does take a long time to break down so they are not suitable for home composting. They are best recycled in with food waste via your local council.
The label on the string is made from paper and the ink on the label is vegetable-based. They are currently rolling out the use of Natureflex – a wood pulp, for the clear inner bags used to keep Tea Pigs fresh.
“Even though it’s a relatively small amount, when you consider the 6bn cups of tea that are brewed up every year in the UK, we are looking at around 150 tonnes of polypropylene – that’s an enormous amount of accumulated plastic waste that is either contaminating food waste compost collections or simply going to landfill,” said Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food in a recent Guardian article. With this in mind, we encourage you to ask your favourite brands to make the switch to plastic-free tea if they haven’t done so already.
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