Bin the (tea) bag

Bin the (tea) bag

By Elise Catterall  August 14th, 2018

Elise asks if it's time for us to bin the tea bag along with the plastic bag.


Forty-two percent of Australians buy tea each year. That’s a lot. It’s testament to the fact that tea is one of our most loved beverages. In fact, it has been reported that 25 billion tea bags are sold in Australia each year.  That’s also a lot, especially when you stop to consider the fact that each of those tea bags comes along with its fair share of packaging and, possibly more alarmingly, contain plastic, which prevents them from being biodegradable and introduces more plastics in to the environment.

I’m a tea lover, and a big tea drinker. Not so much your traditional ‘milk and two’ - more green teas and fresh, fruity herbal teas and tisanes (perhaps that’s the naturopath in me coming through), but a big drinker nonetheless.  So, it’s no surprise that my tea purchases would come under the microscope on my waste free journey.

After doing some reading it soon became clear that, because the vast majority of bags are made of plastic or use it in some form to seal their edges, and because the bags come with at least a few layers of packaging (sometime each bag comes in its own little package, which also contains plastics) they were out for me and loose leaf was in.

It is easy to find loose leaf tea – it’s pretty much everywhere – but much of what is available (especially at the supermarket) still comes in a few layers of plastic packaging (an inner layer to hold the tea, a box and then a plastic shrink wrap layer).  I understand the reasoning behind that, keeping the tea fresh and all, but it’s not for me.

So I set out to explore my options and found some delicious teas with minimal packaging.  I found a few companies who met the brief, for example Teatonic who house their amazing range of teas in gorgeous looking and reusable airtight tins.

Then, to my great joy, I found that my local Source Bulk Food store sold a good range of bulk teas in a range of formulations – black, green, herbal, etc. I was also guided in the direction of refillable linen tea bags – so that I can have my tea without a teapot or my (plastic free) brew-in tea mug, or if I want a mess-free option.

Apart from the fact that the best leaves are used to make loose teas, which means the flavour is hard to beat, the process of making tea from leaves is a lovely ritual – it is not hard to understand why some cultures revere and ritualise tea making. It becomes a moment. 

All the times I have visited bulk stores and I had never noticed the tea – sitting right there in plain site – until I turned my attention to this one part of my life.  It‘s amazing what we don’t see until we see it.

See you next week! - Elise

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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes. 



By Elise Catterall

Elise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.

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