There are limits
Straws may suck and plastic is rubbish.
I can’t give up my tea. This whole plastic thing is just a nightmare. Like the vastest majority of people in the UK, until I started on my plastic-reducing journey I believed that you could compost tea bags. You can’t.
Why can’t I compost tea bags?
Well, if you’ve been on a desert island for the last few weeks, you might have missed the news that the humble teabag, in daily use in kitchens up and down the country, is yet another example of the insidious use of plastic. In order to heat-seal the teabags and cut down manufacturing time and hence costs because they need not be stitched, the teabags contain a kind of plastic mesh which enables heat-sealing of the bags.
A friend of mine has reported being confused for years by finding “skeletons” of teabags in her compost heap. She eventually came to the conclusion, before she found out about the plastic, that they take too long to decompose and stopped putting them in the heap. It’s a pity really, because tea does compost very nicely.
So just use loose tea
Yes, but it’s just not that straightforward. If you buy loose tea at a supermarket, it comes sealed in “foil” (plastic) for extra freshness, inside a cardboard box, which is then further wrapped in plastic. Neither of these forms of plastic are currently recycled Read the box.
If you buy loose tea from somewhere like Whittards it costs an arm and a leg. I would need to take out another mortgage to keep my household in tea for a year. And, I expect they get it delivered wrapped in plastic.
So what do you do?
Some unpackaged stores do sell tea, but it tends to be speciality, organic, expensive. When you just want a good cup of builders’ where do you go?
Buy in Bulk
For me, the best option is to buy in bulk. I’m not made of money and since I’m now paying more for meat, groceries, cleaning products etc than I previously did in order to avoid single-use plastic (and, increasingly any other kind of plastic), I’m having to be careful that I simply don’t overspend the grocery budget.
I managed to find, online, 1kg of orange peko for £17.99 + p&p. It’s more than supermarket own brand, but cheaper than Twinings. My household will certainly go through this much tea before it loses its flavour, but it did come wrapped in a package with a plastic liner. I console myself with the thought that this is considerably less plastic than would have been used had I bought loose tea in the supermarket, but the lack of choice available to me infuriates me.
I’m not alone!
They’re out there…… other people outraged by plastic in teabags. See this blog from 2014 by Lindsay Miles. She’s way ahead of me and if you want to get involved in bombarding tea companies with complaints, she’s got plenty of contact details for you there.
And whilst you’re having a go at them about the actual composition of the teabags, give them a kick about packaging too.
Go on – do it!