Loose leaf or tea bags? Anti-plastic campaigners tell consumers to ditch the teabags

Ask yourself this, why do you use a teabag? I bet you the answer is convenience, for ease or it’s just the way you’ve always made your cuppa. The thought of loose leaf tea fills your mind with mess and quite frankly involves effort that during a busy day you just don’t have the time for. But what if someone said to you that you had no choice but to ditch the teabag?

You’d be outraged.

You wouldn’t want to hear it.

There has been a lot of hustle and bustle in the news recently about reducing our plastic waste and there is one campaign which was started by anti-plastic campaigners and gardeners and is urging tea drinkers to switch from teabags to loose tea to avoid plastic waste. You hear that teabags can placed into compost or food waste bins but is this actually true? It appears to be that no it isn’t true and that most teabags contain a single-use plastic which is non-recyclable and pollutes compost – bet you didn’t know that? (well I didn’t either until before I started looking into it for this post!)

The concern surrounding plastics pollution is growing within consumers and so is their knowledge. UK health food stores have reported strong sales in loose tea in recent years as awareness of environmental issues have grown. There is an argument which floats around that you are almost guaranteed a better cup of tea if you use loose leaves.

I’ll leave that statement there for a second.

There’s lots of brands out there which believe in this argument and will only produce a loose leaf product for this reason. My honest opinion is yes it is a better cup of tea made from loose leaves but only marginally. I’ve supported the loose leaf tea movement in the past (and continue to) because I believe that it’s a more relaxing way to make a brew but I’m lazy and often find myself going back to the teabag.

But one thing I’ve thought whilst writing this post is that even loose leaf packaging now relies on plastic. I went through my tea drawer and nearly every single one of my loose leaf blends are in a recyclable cardboard outside (brownie points there) but enclosed in a plastic film for ‘freshness’.

Then I thought about my favourite tools for making a loose leaved brew, there’s the odd metal one (which are lower on the favourites list because they are harder to clean) but most of those are made from some form of plastic.

The food packaging industry faces huge challenges in the bid to reduce our plastic waste but will we ever get to a plastic-free environment?

And will the average tea drinker be able to give up the convenience of the teabag?

There’s some food for thought…

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