Sustainability made simple

This Is Why Most Tea Bags Are Not Compostable

tea bags in compost
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - K8

Many tea drinkers assume the bags can go in the compost, however, that’s not always the case. We’ll look at when you can put tea bags in the compost and how they benefit your green waste.

Americans drink 159 million cups of tea per day, which means there are a lot of tea bags being thrown out. Before you make your next cup, take a minute to learn what’s in your tea bag.

Materials used in tea bag production can include staples, string, paper and the tea bag itself. Not all tea bags are created equal, and many contain micro and nano plastics that infiltrate the tea we drink.

Many tea bags use polypropylene to keep their bags from falling apart, which therefore renders them non-compostable. Silken pyramid tea bags are among the worst offenders as they’re not made of silk, but of food-grade plastics. This means these tea bags are not compostable…they’re not even biodegradable. 

Did You Know? 75-80% of all tea consumed in the United States is iced!

Benefits of Composting Tea Bags

tea bags in compost
Coffee and tea can make a great addition to your compost bin. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Unsplash - Jan Kopriva )

You can add the contents of your tea bags to your compost pile or toss compostable tea bags directly into your garden. During the growing season, it’s best to use your tea leaves as mulch, so you don’t disturb the roots of the plants. Tea leaves can boost nitrogen in your soil, along with phosphorus and potassium. They may even help quicken the decomposition process of your compost pile.

Best Tea Bags for Composting

The reality is that not all tea bags can be composted. There are a few mainstream tea brands that offer plastic-free bags, so these are safe to add to your compost as is:

  • Pukka Herbs
  • Stash Tea
  • Celestial Seasonings
  • Numi Tea
  • Yogi Tea
  • Liptons (regular tea bags)
  • Republic of Tea

If you have any doubts about whether you should add your tea bag to the compost, simply cut the tea bag open, add the leaves to your compost and throw the bag out. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to adding plastic to your organic waste.

For a more environmentally friendly option, consider switching to loose-leaf tea. Not only are the leaves compostable, you also don’t have to worry about accidentally drinking tons of microplastics. For inspiration, check out our herbal tea recipes:

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