As a nation of tea drinkers, we love a good brew. Whether it be a traditional English breakfast tea, a soothing cup of green tea, or an invigorating herbal tea, we love them all. So much in fact that around 36 billion cups of tea are drunk in Britain every year.
However, have you ever stopped to think about how your favourite tea is made? For example, what ingredients are used during the manufacturing process that you end up consuming?
Fortunately, with loose leaf tea, you don’t have to worry about consuming anything nasty and can relax, safe in the knowledge that you are enjoying nothing but goodness and natural ingredients. But what about people whose tea of choice is brewed in a tea bag?
Carry on reading to find out more about the dangers of ingesting microplastics and other nasty ingredients used in the manufacture of tea bags, and learn why we decided to fully commit to becoming plastic-free.
Harmful effects of consuming plastics
The consumption of plastics, microplastics, and nanoplastics has been linked to many health problems such as cancer, diabetes, and cognitive impairment.
While we may not mean to ingest any plastic materials, modern manufacturing techniques make it hard to avoid. Some harmful chemicals, for example bisphenol A (BPA), are ubiquitous in the production of many plastic products and even products that you may not immediately assume contain plastics (such as tea bags).
This means that it is important to fully vet any brands before you purchase their products – especially if it is something that you will end up consuming.
And the problem does not just lie with what we as humans are consuming. Certain choices and industrial practices are causing an alarming number of plastics to be released into our environment where they are being consumed by animals or harming natural biospheres.
If we want to continue to remain in good health and be able to enjoy our natural wildlife, then we must do all that we can to minimise our use of plastics to avoid accidental consumption.
Do tea bags contain plastic?
Unfortunately, many big-name brands still produce tea bags that contain plastics such as polypropylene. When brewed, the high temperatures can release billions of microplastic and nanoplastic particles that the drinker then ingests.
It is worth noting that there are a number of examples that have made the switch to non-plastic, biodegradable tea bags and they should be commended for that. Consumers can very easily find out whether a brand has made the switch to being plastic-free on their websites.
However, it is actually not just the plastic in the bag that can be harmful to ingest when you brew tea bags. There are many types of glues that are used when manufacturing tea bags to hold them together that can contain plastics and other dangerous ingredients which cause harm when they are ingested.
Loose leaf tea, on the other hand, does not need a bag to be brewed and instead is purely loose tea leaves either brewed in a teapot or using a metal strainer. This means that there is nothing separating you from all of the benefits found in your loose leaf tea.
Why is plastic packaging bad for the environment?
Plastic packaging takes many hundreds of years to decompose. This is not such an issue for plastic that is recyclable or reusable, but it means that single-use plastic will pollute land and sea for generations before it degrades.
Single-use plastic packaging that needs to be thrown out with general waste will either end up in a landfill or get lost and end up in a body of water or littering the street. And remember that tea bags would be fully compostable if they did not contain any plastic! Meaning they would decompose naturally much faster, while also positively contributing to the environment.
Using plastic in tea bags and in other single-use items is an incredible waste for a material that costs a great amount of energy to manufacture, especially when you consider the toll that the extraction of fossil fuels and its refinement into polymers (plastics) takes on our environment.
The greenhouse gas production at every step of the polymer manufacturing process contributes to climate change and quickens the rate at which our ice caps are melting, our oceans are rising, and our planet is heating.
And while this may seem a long way removed from the choices that businesses make when packaging our favourite teas – it really isn’t! Large manufacturing plants create single use plastic materials in bulk that are then supplied to hundreds of businesses.
Big corporations should lead the way to an environmentally conscious world by reducing their use of single use packaging in as many areas as possible.
Here at Leaf, we have done just that. Our tea comes in one of two packaging varieties: a reusable metal tin and environmentally friendly biodegradable refill packs. This means that all of our customers are helping to do their bit to cut down on single use plastic usage.
Plastic free loose leaf tea
For these reasons listed, and more, we must reduce our reliance on plastics at every step of the supply chain. There are many eco-friendly alternatives available, and if the general public continues to show that our demand for plastics is lower, then corporations will be pressured into using alternative materials.
By purchasing loose leaf tea from an eco-friendly, plastic-free business like us at Leaf Tea Shop, you are helping demonstrate to the people in charge that consumers are environmentally conscious!
Every little helps in the journey to a plastic-free future. And if we can all help by having 36 billion cups of plastic-free tea, then that is one hell of a step in the right direction!