We are drowning in plastic, the oceans are awash with it. Land fills bulge and recycling is often no more than a token gesture. We ship it somewhere else and say we’ve recycled it but a large proportion of the stuff we send to Asia to be recycled ends up holes in the ground or floating about in the sea. (Don’t even think about the horrendous conditions in which adults and children toil day in day out sorting the stuff. That’s the subject of another blog.)
At the last count there was something like 8.3 billion tons of the stuff in existence. That’s an awful lot of plastic and we add to that amount every single day. Plastic takes a long time to go away. Just one example – plastic bottles take 450 years to decompose.
A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute. So in the time it takes to make a cup of tea – say three minutes – we’ve added three million plastic bottles to the world all of which last about 450 years. Think of it this way – 450 years ago William Shakespeare was four years old. If he’d had a plastic bottle it would just about have decomposed by now.
We are plastic junkies. It has crept insidiously into every nook and cranny of our lives even things we don’t associate with plastic contain it. Which brings me to Teabags. Yes Teabags contain plastic. The mesh is polypropylene which is why your teabags never completely compost down. Now I consider myself a bit better than average when it comes to awareness of what we’re doing to the planet and why we need to stop so it was a something of a shock when I recently discovered this fact about teabags. 165 million cups of tea are drunk every day in Britain – it will be less in other countries but it will still be a significant contributor to the plastic waste mountain that threatens to bury us all.
What to do about it?
The trouble is tea bags are so convenient. The trick I decided would be to find teabags that didn’t contain plastic. I already buy organic to avoid the pesticides. By my reasoning companies making organic teabags would have thought about the plastic problem so perhaps I was alright after all! I took to that trusty eco warrior’s steed – the internet and googled the problem. I also tried a few like Duckduckgo and Steemit that are less main stream shall we say. The news there was just as bad as that provided by Google – worse in fact because I learnt that paper teabags are frequently treated with epichlorohydrin. No, I hadn’t heard of it either. It’s manufactured by people like Dow Chemicals. Apparently epichlorhydrin hydrolyzes to the carcinogen 3-MCPD when contact with water occurs. Yes you are right – teabags do go in water.
Buy loose tea! But tea bags are so convenient. Think of the hassle with leaves and warming the pot… That’s it – that is our problem. The deadly convenience of modern life.
We have become indoctrinated with the idea that everything must be super easy and convenient – no effort required. The perfect triumph of capitalism. Buy this and you’re life will be so much better. Our snouts are so far in the consumerist trough it’s difficult to see over the swill. I’m as guilty as everyone else. I really, really thought I was going to martyr myself for the cause by using a teapot and loose tea. What a myth that turned out to be. Buying loose tea is cheaper and better quality (if you don’t believe me open a teabag and compare).Plus I buy them in my local health food store where they keep big tins and measure out your purchase into a paper bag. Plastic free. I bought a pot with a wire mesh insert. It’s not a hassle at all in fact it is less trouble than teabags. I kid you not. I couldn’t believe it either but it’s true. I chuck the leaves on the compost and any left over tea is great for house plants. I’ve kicked my teabag habit and I’m never going back.
For those of you who want to check this out further here are some useful articles I found – there are lots more but these will give you a good starting point
and for anyone who wants to get involved in making a change to tea bag