By: Annalise Chapdelaine
If you’re anything like me, you’re (somewhat reluctantly) trying to kick your expensive caffeine habit for an option that’s a little easier on the body and the budget: tea.
But the majority of options at Kroger or Walmart come in plastic-covered boxes that contain individually-packaged tea bags, which seems wasteful. The amount of plastic wasted in the process of making a cup of tea is significant — using a single plastic teabag releases about 11.6 billion microplastic particles into the cup of hot water, according to a 2019 McGill University study.
There’s usually a minimal amount of plastic in each teabag, but just enough to help the bag hold its shape. This means that each time you brew a cup of tea (unless you’re reusing a tea bag), those plastics are being released into the environment and your body.
A solution? Switch to a) loose leaf tea and b) reusable tea bags! I’ve been using loose leaf tea for several years, and find it lasts longer and creates a better brewing experience than traditional American bagged tea. You can buy it in bulk, experiment with a variety of flavors, and enjoy a more robust taste, since the tea leaves aren’t ground so finely.
My favorite brands are Harney & Sons and Good Earth, but I also recommend Clipper Teas and Pukka, all of which either utilize or are currently transitioning to plastic-free and sustainable tea sachets. Of course, don’t forget that Moon Co-op (by Kroger and TJ Maxx) has a good selection of teas that are more environmentally-friendly than your average product.
If you decide to go the loose-leaf tea route, I highly recommend investing in reusable tea sachets! I purchased two organic cotton muslin tea bags from Etsy; they were shipped “plastic free in recyclable, compostable, or biodegradable packaging.” There are dozens of other options, and even DIY tutorials if you want to try your hand at making your own!
The switch is remarkably easy; the only extra step is washing the tea bags between each use (or, if you’re like me, just shaking out the used tea leaves when I’m in a hurry). Add two extra minutes to your morning routine — it’s that simple.