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What is zero waste tea?

Zero waste tea can be described as a set of strategies tea consumers can use to reduce the amount of recycling and garbage created in the process of preparing a tea beverage.

Our Zero Waste Program describes 3 strategies we can use to reduce the amount of garbage and recycling we make through preparing a tea beverage.

Our 3 strategies focus around:

1.) Switching to using quality, reusable steeping equipment over single-serving products

2.) Make a conscious choice to educate ourselves on how to purchase loose leaf tea and less packaged options over tea bags and retail plastic wrapped packaged tea.

3.) Being aware of how much waste we can produce over a tracked period of time and then crunching some numbers to estimate how much waste this is over the period of a year and average lifespan.

When you can visualize better just how much waste you accumulate with your personal footprint with one single habit like consuming single-serving tea bags with overwrap, this can often help us stick with our resolution to, for example, only purchase bulk loose leaf teas packaged in Eco-friendly, biodegradable packaging.

Why is zero waste tea important? Quality Products Vs. Single-Serving Products

Landfills continue to emit harmful greenhouse gases and this growing issue is becoming a global problem that consumer markets will have to address in the coming years for future generations. The tea industry is a big one, which means billions of cups of tea prepared daily! And unfortunately, the tea industry is also particularly embedded in plastic wrap culture and single-serving products. In North America, the most popular tea choices are usually singe-use tea bags with plastic or paper overwrap.

This amounts to a great deal of extra packaging that goes into the landfill and can be avoided by using loose leaf tea and using a quality small strainer to steep your tea leaves. It's a small change which adds up day by day and has the potential to inspire your friends and family and make a bigger impact.

Nowadays you can often find everything you need lying around in your kitchen cupboard or at any second-hand kitchen supply store to prepare loose leaf tea, you don't even need to go to a specialty tea shop to find a reliable strainer or suitable loose leaf tea accessories.

The Problem With Recycling

So let’s say tea bag overwrap and boxed packaging is all recycled and doesn’t end up adding to landfills but goes into the recycling bin, that’s only part of the issue. It’s easy to forget about all the energy and resources needed to collect and sort and prepare recycled goods to be made into more single-serving products.

Recycling alone isn’t going to be the solution to producing less waste, instead of educating tea drinkers on strategies & behaviors on how to change their habits around tea preparations and adopt simple, low-waste tea routines.

One of the ultimate goals here is to steer away from the boxed tea aisle in the grocery store and learn how to order loose leaf tea and master all the steps involved in its preparation. This habit alone will add up to eliminating tens of thousands of tea bags over the course of the average lifespan and let’s remember that EACH tea bag requires materials and energy to produce and many types of tea bags are not biodegradable and end up in landfills.

Loose Leaf Tea Vs. Tea Bags

500g / 1.1lbs of tea = 200 tea bags
Compared to loose leaf tea, this means overall:
  • Higher shipping costs
  • Higher fuel consumption
  • Increased resource use
  • Increased non-reusable waste

Where Do We Start? Make One Small Change At a Time

The good news regarding is you can sink your teeth into being a “Zero Waste Tea Warrior” at whatever level and commitment works best for you but our biggest suggestion is to make one change at a time! If there's one thing we've learned from our experiences, try to master ONE new habit or behaviour for at least 4 weeks before you start adding another one. And be sure to make the process as fun and enjoyable as possible by connecting with other people and networks who share your enthusiasm in low-waste tea culture. And even better news is that tea drinking is a consumer habit that can fairly easily be transformed into a much more Eco-Friendly habit simply by making one critical change, and that's how to steep loose leaf tea.