In our household we have been experimenting with how best to make a plastic-free cup of tea. Here in Britain, 165 million cups of tea are drunk daily, which amounts to 36 billion cups a year, with almost all of them being made with teabags (96%). I had no idea that most teabags contained plastic that was not fully biodegradable/compostable until I wrote a post about it in February last year directed at PG Tips and asked them to stop using plastic in your teabags
We, the consumers need to put more pressure on the big brands as well as make significant changes to our daily rituals in order to reduce our plastic usage. Since I wrote my blog post nearly two years ago, I’m not sure much has changed yet, judging by the supermarket shelves. It’s still relatively difficult to find plastic free, price friendly teabags in my opinion. But the battle against plastic usage is on and the time has come for us all to make more of an effort – not only for the sake of the environment but also for our own bodies. Apparently we are consuming the equivalent of a coat hanger of plastic waste a month via our teabags, chewing gum, crisps, cosmetics, wet wipes and synthetic clothing.
Polypropylene is a plastic and it’s what is being used to seal the teabags – 20% is not a small or insignificant amount when multiplied up by the millions and millions of tea bags used daily around the world. All of these plastics remains un-degraded in the environment and therefore our food bins contain toxic chemicals.
So what can we do?
LOOSE LEAF TEA
Firstly we tried using loose leaf tea, brewed in a teapot and sieved through a tea strainer. We gave this a serious go (using my posh Fortnum & Mason’s tea that I got in my Christmas hamper from work last year), but I’m not sure it’s been a huge success and it’s messy. The tea in the cup ends up being slightly luke warm with floaty tea at the top and my sink gets blocked. No way I will get my children to clean up their leaves – my daughter already chucks her teabags in the sink for some annoying reason and so I’m not sure we will manage this rather lengthy tea ceremony:-
My daughter bought me this cute little elephant tea strainer last year to use instead of teabags. You just put loose tea into his bottom and let him hang off the edge of your cup. This is a less messy option compared to using a teapot. I appreciate I’m being a little hypocritical by suggesting a plastic device, but at least it’s long lasting and he makes me happy:-
PLASTIC FREE TEA BAGS
Teabags remain the most convenient option of choice for us all. There are a range of brands that produce plastic free tea bags but I have found that most are either very expensive or don’t offer a “builder’s tea” taste option.
Having done some research, the Clipper teabags get my vote for price and taste. Clipper have produced the world’s first plastic free teabags apparently (although some debate as to whether bio-plastic is a better option than the oil-based ones). Their organic fairtrade “rich and mighty one” is great – an everyday tea in plastic-free tea bags and it’s currently selling at £2.92 for 80 bags in Waitrose which is a bargain. Their bags are unbleached, making them an earthy colour because they are made from a type of banana.
Teapigs have lovely silky teabags and are delicious, but they’re expensive at around £3.99 for just 15 tea bags – making them contraband for us tea drinkers in the morning as they only last a few days.
Pukka also do a plastic free range, but I’m not sure they do anything but fruit flavoured tea – could be wrong, but couldn’t find it in the supermarket.
BRING BACK THE MILK PERSON
The milk “person” is becoming popular again, delivering glass milk bottles to our door to avoid even more plastic in our tea. There will be one you’ve no doubt spotted on a street near you. Sign up!
Let me know how you get on or if you have any other recommendations!