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Did you know there is hidden plastic in tea bags?

Hidden plastic
A mini series that focuses on everyday items that contain plastic

The first part in our hidden plastic mini series is all about an everyday item that most of us in the UK use and dispose of 2-3 times a day on average.

Plastic is quite literally everywhere, it’s hidden in products from drinks cans to chewing gum, but did you know it’s in your tea bags? Until recently neither did we. It turns out this is a little known fact and lots of people actually put tea bags in compost bins but you’ll notice that they don’t actually break down but rather remain as a shell in the compost.

While you think that a tea bag might not contain that much plastic (they are pretty small) just think if you have three cups of tea a day that’s 21 tea bags a week and a massive 1,095 tea bags a year all adding to the plastic problem.

Loose leaf tea no plastic

If you’re wondering what you can do to cut down on this unnecessary plastic you have a few options:

Some brands have started producing plastic free tea bags including Brew Tea Co, Abel and Cole, Clipper, T2, Twining, and Teapigs. Make sure you check the range first as not all tea bags produced by these companies are plastic free.

The Coop in particular are taking their plastic production/consumption very seriously and are aiming to make 100% of their packaging ‘easy to recycle’ by 2023. They are developing their own brand ‘99 tea’ without plastic which they claim will save nine tonnes of plastic every year from being sent to landfill.

Go loose leaf! In the last year I switched over to loose leaf tea and I love it. Admittedly it’s a bit more faff than using a tea bag which you dunk and bin, but I actually think it has a better flavour and there’s a greater range of flavours.

Most supermarkets have a small range of loose leaf tea, but often packed in plastic, for a wider selection find an old fashioned tea shop like Whittards. Alternatively if you’re a not much of an English breakfast tea sort of person but like herbal teas try buying mint leaves loose and pop them in some boiling water for a bit of flavour!

This one small action can minimise that extra little bit of plastic in your day to day life. This article will be followed up by another with a list of our favourite tea strainers and options for loose teas.

Lauren works for a public health charity, is our resident vegetarian (11 years!) and volunteers for an animal charity in her spare time. Her favourite eco product is the Face Halo.

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