There’s Plastic Hiding In Your Tea bag, Here’s The Smart Swap

Hi dear readers, here on The Eco Hub, we have a series called SMART SWAPS. These are healthy, effective non-toxic alternatives to common store bought items that you and your family use every day.

Why did I start this series? Well, in the hunt for information about the scope of plastic in our environment (thank you Plastic Free July)  I read in several places that there is evidence of plastic in our tea bags. I first posted about this about a year ago. But, a new study from McGill University says we may be swallowing billions of tiny plastic particles while sipping a cup of freshly brewed gourmet tea!

To conduct their analysis, the researchers purchased four different commercial teas packaged in plastic teabags. The researchers cut open the bags and removed the tea leaves so that they wouldn’t interfere with the analysis. Then, they heated the emptied teabags in water to simulate brewing tea. Using electron microscopy, the team found that a single plastic teabag at brewing temperature released about 11.6 billion microplastic and 3.1 billion nanoplastic particles into the water. These levels were thousands of times higher than those reported previously in other foods. Read more here.

According to reporting from The Times of London popular tea companies do you single-use plastic in their tea bags.

This Guardian reported notes that:

“Many tea drinkers are blissfully unaware that the teabag from their daily cuppa is sealed using plastic,” said Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food. “Even though it’s a relatively small amount, when you consider the 6bn cups of tea that are brewed up every year in the UK, we are looking at around 150 tonnes of polypropylene – that’s an enormous amount of accumulated plastic waste that is either contaminating food waste compost collections or simply going to landfill.”

Pretty Crazy if you ask me!

If you are not sure if your tea bag contains syntenic fibers look at the edge if it’s shiny and coated with a “heat sealed” edge, it most likely contains plastic.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want to drink plastic AND be responsible for more plastic waste.

The SMART SWAP is loose leaf tea, you’ll reduce your exposure to plastic and it’s 100% compostable, win for you win for the planet.

If you are composting tea bags here are a few tips that have worked for me:

  • If you are worried about polypropylene being left in your compost, don’t compost the tea bag
  • You can always tear the bag open, remove the tea leaves and then toss the bag, not the best option
  • If the tea bag has a staple and string, you will need to remove them both


Related Post: Canada Recently Signed A Plastics Charter, But How Effective Is It really?

So starting today, I’ll be sharing lots of great Smart Swaps, I will always try to find the MOST eco-friendly option and one that can help lead to a zero waste lifestyle.

I’d love to hear from you, what do you think of this series?


There's Plastic Hiding In Your Tea bag, Here's The Smart Swap

Candice Batista

Candice Batista is an award winning Environmental Journalist and one of Canada’s leading eco advocates. Her career spans national and international media outlets, where she has used her background in environmental studies and media & communications to produce and report on various environmental and climate issues for primarily television and digital audiences including Huffington Post, The Globe & Mail, The Weather Network, CityTV, Rogers Television, The Pet Network, iChannel, and CTV, where she is currently the National Eco Expert for the stations number 1 daytime talk show, The Marilyn Denis Show.
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