the Tea on Tea Bags
Ahh, to enjoy a simple cup of tea. It’s peaceful and rejuvenating…but wait! *insert evil music* THERE’S PLASTIC IN MY TEA BAG?!
Yes, tea bags have tiny amounts of plastic, and those that aren’t made with plastic are generally created with chemically bleached paper (yuck).
A study by the American Chemical Society’s journal, Environmental Science and Technology, reveals plastic tea bags release “billions” of plastic micro and nanoparticles into tea, which are then consumed by millions of tea-drinkers worldwide (with 159 million tea-drinkers in America alone).
The study states: "The increasing presence of micro and nano-sized plastics in the environment and food chain is of growing concern. Although mindful consumers are promoting the reduction of single use-plastics, some manufacturers are creating new plastic packaging to replace traditional paper uses, such as plastic teabags.”
Now, one tea bag doesn’t feel like a big deal, but when you think about how many millions of tea bags are used every day, the impact becomes evident. Research shows that even environmentally friendly tea bags are only 70%-80% biodegradable. The Environmental Audit Committee listed these bags as one of the main things polluting our water systems because of their non-recyclable components. The result? Over 100 million plastic related marine animal deaths per year.
So let’s rewind for a moment. The tea bag was accidentally invented over 100 years ago by tea merchant, Thomas Sullivan. He placed and shipped tea in tiny sample-sized bags, and the receiving customers oddly decided to dunk the entire thing in hot water. Well, voila! It worked well and was, well…convenient. But, the mass public shunned this cultural abomination of tea drinking, and committed to the beautiful process of brewing loose leaf tea. Now enter the 1950’s. The 50’s, the era of convenience and time-saving gadgets boomed, and thus, tea bags entered the major markets.
Now let’s fast forward to today. According to the Tea Council (yes, that’s a real thing), around 96% of the tea bags created are made via teabags, most of which end up in landfills and leak trace amounts of chemicals into our systems. The reason that tea bags end up in landfills is because of improper disposing, and because they can’t be recycled. While most of a tea bag is made from biodegradable paper, around 20% 30% is not. In order to stop tea bags bursting open in transit or in the cup, many are sealed with a strip of heat-resistant polypropylene plastic. This plastic polymer has to be used in order for the teabags to stay sealed and keep their shape in hot water, or so say the manufacturers…
Tea bag manufacturers continue to make tea bags in the same way, despite evidence showing that the type of plastic used in teabags (polypropylene) can cause damage to the endocrine system, fertility, and increase a person’s chances of developing genetic mutations and tumors.
OK NOW ENOUGH OF THE DEBBIE DOWNER
NEGATIVE $H!T, what should I do?
So happy you asked! TEA INFUSERS ARE THE CUTEST THINGS EVER. Have you seen the adorable stainless steel and silicone reusable tea infusers? Tiny Manatees holding your loose leaf tea, thanking you for not polluting their water ways? Or a dinosaur with a long neck poking out of that amazing chamomile you just brewed? Or how about the precious multi colored leaves, just waiting to be filled and stirred….ok ok I’ll stop, I clearly love tea infusers and won’t list off any of my other ones (minus the floating silicon and stainless steel duck I just purchased…)
Switching over to using loose leaf tea and tea infusers might seem like a pain at first (the extra 9 seconds it will cost you oddly feels drastic). But here are a few amazing reasons to make the switch:
You will now ingest zero micro-plastics via your tea
The process of brewing tea is once again, special. It becomes a very quick ritual that, based off your tea infuser, can be fun and relaxing!
You will not be a part of clogging water ways with micro-plastics and polluting water
Loose leaf tea offers a larger variety of tea options
Brewing loose leaf tea lends to a much more robust taste…aka how tea was/is meant to taste
YOU WILL SAVE MONEY—when you buy a packaged item, you pay for the packaging. Loose leaf tea generally comes in larger quantities for a cheaper price. WE LOVE SAVING MONEY
NO MORE SCARY CHEMICALS. If the cancer warnings above don’t scare you, then I don’t know what does.
Did we already mention zero micro-plastics AND that you will SAVE MONEY?