Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Do you drink tea?

It is now common knowledge that we are awash with plastics. At last it’s in all the papers and on people’s minds and, while the news of floating islands that ‘could be upwards of a million square miles in size’ (National Geographic) and plastic pollution that is ‘500 times the number of stars in our galaxy’ (https://www.sas.org.uk) is depressing and seemingly hopeless, we need to work hard to stay positive. Now is the time to garner a war on plastics and see if we can’t turn the tide. It won’t be easy and we’ll have give up some of the luxuries that we have become so very used to. One of those luxuries are tea bags that contain plastic…

Wait!… “What?” I hear some of you say? Plastic in tea bags? Sadly it’s true. Most tea bags contain a type of plastic called polypropylene or polyethylene which helps to seal the bag. There are very few that don’t use plastics and those that don’t tend to be the string and tag variety which usually come in a plasticised sachet which are not recyclable.  Of course, in an ideal world we would all go to our local tea shop (!) and buy fresh tea out of jars but that’s not going to happen (yet) for most of us. So I thought I’d find out which bags are the best and which are the worst so that at least we can all step one foot in the right direction to reduce our plastic footprint.

Herbal teas are no better. Whilst a lot of them don’t use polypropylene in the tea bags they usually come wrapped in the little individual sachets - and these are made of plastic and are not recyclable. It seems that a basic rule of thumb is that string and tag tea bags are made of compostable starch (but often come in the sachets) and square, heat sealed teabags do contain plastic.

Quite a few companies are working to try to make their bags biodegradable. In the old days they would have used staples to seal the bag but then we started recycling and, bam, out went the staples and in came the plastic. I am now very concerned because the council guidelines are to compost tea bags - and I don’t think they have taken the plastic in to consideration.

The Co-op supermarket is working with its supplier Typhoo and a packaging firm called Ahlstrom-Munksj√∂ to develop a plastic-free tea bag which would be fully biodegradable and should be on the shelves within a year.  
Read more: www.dailymail.co.uk

So, to sum up. These are the tea bags which are better than others - these have no plastics in the bags but may have some in their packaging:

Tea Pigs
These are two local tea companies:

I am using up my commercial tea bags and will only keep a few for emergencies. I have discovered that infusing lemon, ginger, turmeric and black pepper makes a great, immune boosting drink and will be buying dried chamomile and dried peppermint so that I have those options. And, of course, I’ve already moved on to loose tea too!

I hope to write more about this when I have more information - such as what the council have to say about what happens to the food caddies. Any questions or comments you have are much appreciated and will be answered.