composting tea bags

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LemonBalm
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composting tea bags

Post: #204851 LemonBalm
Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:42 pm

I'm not sure whether this topic is best here or in the allotments,etc, forum.

I have read that there could be a problem with composting tea bags -
"Tea bag paper is related to paper found in milk and coffee filters. It is made with a blend of wood and vegetable fibers. The vegetable fiber is bleached pulp abaca hemp, a small plantation tree grown for the fiber, mostly in the Philippines and Colombia. Heat-sealed tea bag paper usually has a heat-sealable thermoplastic such as PVC or polypropylene, as a component fiber on inner side of the tea bag surface." (quote from wikipedia)
and,
"Hi, I notice that you mention composting teabags. There is a problem with this. Here is a link to a blogpost I did about this http://nickpalmer.blogspot.com/2009/05/ ... ssues.html

The problem is that tea bags are not just paper! They have a small percentage of polyester pvc or polypropylene fibres added (wikipaedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_bag ) so they can be heat sealed during manufacture. When composted, they leave a “ghost” web of plastic fibres behind. This is particularly noticeable in a wormery. I have let Zero Waste’s Mrs Green and Rubbish Diet’s Almost Mrs Average know, plus a few American blogs but so far I seem to be the only one who has noticed this. Can you help to spread the word? I let them cool a little then rip them and pour out the leaves into my compost caddy." (quote Nick Palmer on http://coopette.com/blog/recycle-now-ba ... composting)

What do people think?
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Thomzo
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Re: composting tea bags

Post: #204860 Thomzo
Sat Aug 07, 2010 4:03 pm

Hi
It is a pain, I tipped out a wormery today and found a whole pile of partially fermented tea bags. As the compost was going under some top soil, which will then have turf over it, I just left them in the hope that they will mush down in time.

Would organic tea bags be better do you think?

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Re: composting tea bags

Post: #204868 JessieMac
Sat Aug 07, 2010 6:01 pm

When I found out what was in tea bags I went back to loose tea ...............the side benefit of this has been the rediscovery of what tea should taste like.We have also started to use a nice teapot and sit down to enjoy our tea instead of rushing around with a mug and a teabag. :flower:

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Re: composting tea bags

Post: #204926 LemonBalm
Sun Aug 08, 2010 11:58 am

Thomzo - I haven't looked into the question of organic tea bags, it's a possibility.

JessieMac - I suspect that ultimately (except perhaps food miles-wise) loose tea is probably the answer. "Slow" tea. I certainly do not relish the idea of ripping open tea bags to avoid putting whatever is undesirable in the bag in the compost.

However :sunny: I have received advice from a poster on the Garden Organic forums (Stephen) that he has found that Clipper tea bags claim to be fully compostable while all the other manufacturers he contacted did not make such a claim. Stephen says he has found that Clipper compost well .

Do people remember the advent of the nylon tea bag a few years ago?

I still feel a niggle about the heat-sealing process.

Gosh - sometimes it feels like you have to research everything these days! :(
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Re: composting tea bags

Post: #204929 wulf
Sun Aug 08, 2010 12:37 pm

I normally rip tea-bags before putting them in the compost and can't say that I've noticed a lot of remnants by the time everything is ready. I'm getting more into loose tea again though - if I'm going to compost the leftovers then any gain from the "tidiness" of bags is lost anyway.

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Re: composting tea bags

Post: #204936 Helsbells
Sun Aug 08, 2010 4:48 pm

Thanks for this, I have been putting tea bags straight into the compost but will stop now.
I had noticed them coming out the bottom but didn't think anything of it.

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Re: composting tea bags

Post: #210686 Sinmara
Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:05 am

oh, good point, I wouldn't have thought of that.

I bought a wormery a week ago and my worms are still making themselves at home, so I haven't started putting anything in yet.

My boyfriend uses normal teabags, but I use loose tea (herbal tea only) and occasionally Clipper tea - I'll make sure he rips his tea bags open. (Though I think I'll have to do it in the end :? )
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Re: composting tea bags

Post: #210687 oldjerry
Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:18 am

We use tea bags,but I'd never heard of this.I would have said the quantities are so small it wouldn't matter,but thats not right.Tea leaves for us in future(better cuppa anyhow).Any how it's just a means of adding extra profit to a basic commodity.

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Re: composting tea bags

Post: #210698 crowsashes
Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:20 am

i read this a few months ago

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2 ... egradeable

it may help shed a bit more light on the subject.

for me personally though, once the current stock of gifted teabags runs out ill be back on the loose leaf tea (ill buy several boxes via the clipper site as i cant for loose leaf here at the moment)

thinking about it in environmental cost loose leaf has to be better than teabags

its dried then packed whereas for teabags theres several energy hungry steps between drying and packaging.

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Re: composting tea bags

Post: #210703 fifi folle
Sun Oct 03, 2010 11:11 am

Jackson's of Picadilly have polypropelene free tea bags. But it's whether the extra cost is worth it. Ideally all tea companies should change to plastic free tea bags but until they do I'll put up with ripping the tea bags and then picking out the leftover bag from my compost.

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Re: composting tea bags

Post: #210712 ina
Sun Oct 03, 2010 1:24 pm

My teabags seem to break down by the time it's turned into proper compost... I use only organic tea; according to that Guardian article, Clipper's teabags only use polypropylene in sealing - so not in the rest of the bag? Maybe that's why whatever is left is so small that I don't notice it.
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Re: composting tea bags

Post: #211909 Lucy Robyn
Sat Oct 16, 2010 12:02 am

I've always used loose leaf tea because it tastes so good. I hadn't realised about the plastic in the bags or thought about the extra process in production, infact I started to compost the leaves because plants love black tea. Environmental awareness came later.

Another advantage is that while its brewing you have time to feed child, cats, put washing in the machine etc...I like strong tea!

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Re: composting tea bags

Post: #212047 Thomzo
Mon Oct 18, 2010 6:57 pm

I do prefer loose leaf tea but it seems to be such a mess. You have to use a tea-pot and a strainer. The tea leaves have to be coaxed out of the tea pot (how?) and both items washed up. I'm not entirely sure it's any more environmentally friendly than organic tea bags.

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Re: composting tea bags

Post: #212090 cafe_tom
Tue Oct 19, 2010 10:42 am

Thomzo wrote:I do prefer loose leaf tea but it seems to be such a mess. You have to use a tea-pot and a strainer. The tea leaves have to be coaxed out of the tea pot (how?)


Hey Zoe, I enjoy a pot of tea with my sunday breakfast. I find the best way to get the leaves from the pot is to go out to the compost heap, or compost pot in the kitchen, and then pour the tea straight onto the heap or into the pot. If there's no water left in the pot, then I just add some. The whole lot; water and leaves, then go on the heap.
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Re: composting tea bags

Post: #212106 ina
Tue Oct 19, 2010 1:32 pm

SusieGee wrote:Reading this when it was first posted made me re-evaluate the teabag/loose tea situation and I decided to try loose again. I can't believe the difference in the end result, drinking tea has now become a real treat again - the flavour is so much nicer somehow and I have one of those little nylon sieve thingys that slots into the teapot so you just drain it and shake into the compost


I've been using a cotton one for years - always bought in Germany, because I never saw them here! The only thing to beware of - occasionally I forget to empty it straight away. It does start to get mouldy after a while... Yuck. But they can be washed in the machine.
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