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By Rachel Geyer
After water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world! We only chose one blend from each company to highlight, so be sure to look through their products and find your new favorite tea blend.
For thousands of years, tea has been a staple in many Asian countries. In the 1600’s, the Dutch East India Company began trading tea around the globe. Throughout history, tea has been prepared plastic-free, so why are we using plastic now?
In the early 1900’s, tea bags were invented so that you could prepare single cups of tea at a time. Today, most tea bags are sealed with polypropylene or polyethylene, both plastics. Some, like the silken pyramid tea bags, are entirely made of plastic, namely nylon and polyethylene terephthalate. When placed in a hot mug, these tea bags release micro and nanoplastics into your tea. When you throw them out, these plastics leach into our water, soil, and food where they can linger for tens, hundreds, or even thousands of years.
Instead, you can brew loose leaf tea or buy plastic free tea bags. Brewing loose leaf tea is super easy! All you need is hot water, tea leaves, and something to strain the leaves out with, like a kettle or tea strainer.
The tea production industry itself can cause a lot of harm to the environment. Forests are cut down to make space for growing tea and to provide the wood that fuels the factories. Tea plantations turn into monocultures, which reduce biodiversity in the area by only growing a few plant species. Growing the same crop over and over again also depletes the soil of nutrients resulting in declining crop yields.
This makes things worse for workers in the tea industry, many of which are living in poverty. Unfair wages are not new to the tea industry. Tea was an important part of the British Empire which turned the land they colonized into tea plantations, forcing the indigenous people to work on them. Even after these colonies gained independence, tea working conditions did not improve much. That’s why the Fair Trade certification is important to look for when buying tea. Tea farms that carry this certification are required to provide fair wages and treatment to their workers.
- https://karuspace.karu.ac.ke/bitstream/handle/20.500.12092/1816/Environmental issues in the tea value chain.pdf
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