I had no idea that teabags contained plastic and were therefore not fully biodegradable/compostable until recently.
It really is time for a change and there are some simple things we can do. In the UK we currently throw away 7 million coffee cups a day – SEVEN MILLION!!! We buy nearly 36 million water bottles a day – nearly half of which end up in landfill and the sea.
1. Stop using teabags and use loose leaf tea and a teapot/tea strainer instead
2. Invest in a coffee mug you can take with you to work – Pret a Manger will give you 50p off your coffee if you bring a mug AND they’re generous with the portion so you get way more. I have recently bought this Chilli mug and water bottle. They’re amazing – keeps drinks hot or cold for hours:-
3. Let’s make the milk “person” popular again – and bring back the glass milk bottles
4. Reject the straw – not difficult. Pointless invention in the first place.
Unilever owns PG Tips, the UK’s most popular cup of tea and so far they haven’t started making changes to using polypropylene. Teabags won’t completely biodegrade if they have plastic in them. People in Britain drink 165m cups of tea EVERY day – with 96% of those from tea bags. That adds up to billions of pieces of plastic. As a market leader and the recent purchaser of Pukkha teas which doesn’t use plastic in its tea bags, Unilever could help make a positive difference to the environment by removing plastic now.
So we not only need to put pressure on the big brands, but also to think about other ways to reduce our plastic usage. One way is to invest in loose leaf tea – my daughter bought me this cute little elephant tea strainer to use instead of teabags. You just put loose tea into his bottom and let him hang off the edge of your cup. I appreciate I’m being a little hypocritical by suggesting a plastic device, but at least it’s long lasting:-
Polypropylene is a plastic and 20% is not a small or insignificant amount when multiplied up by the millions and millions of tea bags used daily around the world. All of these plastics remains un-degraded in the environment.
There have been many campaigns to keep plastics and microplastics out of our seas, highlighting the harm they do to marine life. But the same is true of plastics on land as they can cause harm to birds and small mammals. We need to keep ALL plastics OUT of our environment.
I believe that it is possible to use another material that is biodegradable – plant or fabric based. In fact, I understand that there is already one brand of conventional teabag which is polypropylene-free made by Jacksons of Piccadilly, so it is technically and practically possible.
Let’s make our environment plastic free and fully compostable with a change to the materials used in our tea bags. Please sign this petition to stop PG Tips from continuing to do this.