Plastic is almost everywhere you look. It’s in our oceans, our homes, it fills up all the shelves at supermarkets and it is even in our food. When you look at a tea bag, plastic usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.
Creating a sustainable business - financially and environmentally
Because nature is close to our hearts, having our packaging as environmentally friendly as possible is important to us. We underestimated how challenging this would be; after all 'sustainability' means it can continue without depleting resources, so a sustainable business has to maintain itself. At times this has meant sacrificing principles in the short term and striking a balance between our own existence and beliefs we hold dear. Similarly, as a pioneering business, we've had to find the balance between leading customers to new products, and giving them what they know and want.
Customers still prefer teabags
At the outset, we only wanted to sell loose tea, but soon relented and offered a tea bag version reluctantly. The hesitation came from tea bags having plastic filament woven into the paper - this makes them neither recyclable nor biodegradable. We tried switching customers to loose tea, but found the uptake slow, although we still do persist in this. Whether you like your Rooibos light or strong, loose leaf tea also allows consumers to add a perfect amount of Rooibos tea in their cup or pot.
What is a compostable tea bag?
Fortunately, we have recently found a supplier who works with compostable teabags and are so in the process of making the switch to them.
These teabags are designed to decompose under 'industrial composting' conditions. This refers to developed countries, where organic waste can be taken to a public facility for composting - the new filament will decay in 2 weeks at 58 degrees and 100 % relative humidity. While this is achievable at home - particularly in the more hot and humid parts of the country, it will need to be a properly managed compost heap.
Under regular conditions our teabags will decompose after 5 years. This might seem long, but it's still a fraction of the time of regular plastics.
Ultimately, plastics are not the problem; it's what we do with plastics that is the problem. We still have a polypropylene pouch to pack the teabags in. This will also change.
What should you do?
First prize: To have as light a footprint as possible: buy our loose leaf tea, reuse our resealable pouches.
Next best: If teabags are for you: please buy our Cederberg Foothills or Matzikama Rooibos, brush up your composting skills, and recycle the plastic pouch.
And always ask yourself where you can: reduce, reuse, recycle and repair. Also remember that if you are unsure about whether your practices are the best, there is a wealth of knowledge only a few clicks away.
You can buy all our teas via our online shop. Currently our Cederberg Foothills and Matzikama teas with compostable teabags.
Free delivery in South Africa for orders larger than R375.