If you are like me and love a good cup of tea, then this is the perfect post for you. From reusable cups to fair trade organic tea brands, here are 4 tips for drinking tea more sustainably.
1) Use Reusable & On-the-Go Cups
Even the “paper” cups used by many cafes for hot beverages often contain a thin plastic lining to prevent leaking and so cannot be composted or recycled. To avoid these non-recyclable cups, bring your own reusable cup (covid guidelines permitting) the next time you purchase tea, or any other hot beverage for that matter, at a cafe. An even better option? Make your tea at home and take it to go with a well insulated thermos like this one. Making your own tea will also save you a ton of money!
2) Drink Loose Tea
Drinking loose tea greatly reduces packaging waste by eliminating the need for tea bags which often contain metal or plastic elements and therefore cannot be composted or recycled. Drinking loose tea is also more economical and usually makes a stronger, more flavorful brew.
3) Compost Tea Leaves
After steeping your loose tea, make sure to throw the used leaves in the compost to further reduce your tea waste!
4) Choose Your Tea Wisely
More than 13 million people are employed in the tea industry worldwide, most working for large tea companies on plantations with tough working conditions and unfair pay. These large companies usually prioritize profit over both their workers and the environment leading to environmental issues such as excess water use, destructive pest management, and poor/eroded soil conditions. In 2013, Forum for the Future created the campaign Tea 2030, a project which involved companies and individuals from across the tea industry working together to solve its sustainable issues by the year 2030. You can contribute to this effort by buying from organic, fairtrade certified tea companies. Products with the fair trade mark contain ingredients produced entirely by small-scale farms/plantations that meet the international fair trade social, environmental, and economic agreements; these include protection of worker’s rights and children, fair pay, and preservation of the environment. Here are a few amazing fair-trade tea brands:
Honest: Particularly popular for their iced tea beverages, this company is fair trade & organic, but watch out for which products you buy as not all their packaging is recyclable or compostable.
Numi: This tea brand is committed to recycling/recyclable packaging, monitors and reports their total carbon impact to Carbon Fund, and has offset over 6 million pounds of carbon through the purchase of carbon offsets that support renewable energy initiatives since 2011.
Arbor: This tea company is the first to offer their full line of teas in 100% backyard compostable packaging. They also package all their tea in a solar powered facility and offsets their carbon emissions from transporting their products via Carbon Fund, an organization that funds green energy, energy efficiency projects, and reforestation.
Pukka: Puka uses 100% compostable tea bags, is a 100% carbon neutral company, sends zero waste to landfills, and donates 1% of profits towards environmental initiatives via 1% for the planet. They also have a great variety of teas for ailments such as sore throats and stomach aches!
Guayakí: This company uses regenerative practices to grow their tea and helps preserve South American rainforests & support the indigenous people of these forests with their ethical and sustainable sourcing.
“How to Enjoy a Sustainable Cup of Tea.” Laura Trotta. Last modified August 8, 2019. https://lauratrotta.com/sustainable-tea/#:~:text=An%20ethical%20and%20sustainable%20cup,fairer%20future%20for%20us%20all.
“Your Guide to Sustainable Tea.” Earth 911. Last Modified March 19, 2018. https://earth911.com/food/sustainable-tea/.
“Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Tea Brands.” Going Zero Waste. Last Modified April 11, 2020. https://www.goingzerowaste.com/blog/sustainable-and-eco-friendly-tea-brands/.
“10 Fair Trade & Zero Waste Tea Brands for Sustainable Sipping.” Conscious Life and Style. Last modified April 22, 2020. https://www.consciouslifeandstyle.com/sustainable-organic-fair-trade-tea/.