Should You Compost Tea Bags?

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Should You Compost Tea Bags?

Should You Compost Tea Bags?
For those of you who are tea drinkers, you probably saw this frightening study that came out about a year ago saying that many of our tea bags are either made of or contain plastic, and are filling our steaming cup of tea with billions of microplastic particles. Yikes. You gotta be KIDDING me. I can’t even enjoy my tea anymore? Which lead me to another question: Should I compost tea bags?

I guess the plastic we are drinking in our tea should be the bigger concern, but I also don’t want it in my compost or my garden soil. I had been composting my tea bags for years and they seem to break down fine, but if they are leaving behind tiny bits of plastic in my garden soil, I thought maybe I’d better start putting them in the trash. Then again, is it useless to even try to eliminate the ingestion of microplastics anymore? Apparently they are everywhere, in our drinking water, in the soil, in fish and animals. And now us.

I am working on switching completely to loose leaf tea, because even the tea bags that look like they are made of paper may be sealed with plastic, and it’s really tough to tell which ones are plastic-free, unless it’s advertised as such on the box. But I was still curious whether tea bags can or should be composted. I decided to do a poll on a sustainable living Facebook group that I am a part of to see whether the members of that group compost their tea bags or not.

Do You Compost Tea Bags? Facebook Poll Results:

  • Yes: 363
  • No: 54
  • Don’t have a compost bin: 56
So eliminating those that don’t have a bin, the results were 87% do compost tea bags and 13% do not.

There were many comments and some advice from readers:

  • Look for brands that say they are plastic-free. Even some of the pyramid-shaped ones that have been the biggest offenders (since many are totally made of plastic, not just sealed with it) have switched to corn fiber or natural-based materials, so check the box. Here is a list of some brands that do and do not use plastic in their tea bags.
  • One member called Lipton who says they are in the process of switching to non-plastic compostable tea bags.
  • Many say they cut open the bag, compost the tea and throw out the bag.
  • Others said that there is so much plastic in our water and soil at this point, go ahead and compost.
  • Most popular recommendation – switch to loose tea!
Clear as mud? Basically there is no consensus amongst sustainability-minded types on whether it is a good or bad idea to compost your tea bags, but most do compost them. The bigger concern really is whether you are drinking billions of microplastics in a cup of tea and what might that do to you? Personally, I’m going to switch to loose leaf tea to be on the safer side.

Was this article helpful? Yes -0 No -0197 Posted by: 👨 Amanda J. Howard
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