Every day, people make more than one and a half million cups of tea. Of these, a good 80% are as a result of tea bags. That means that in one day, there are more than one million tea bags in circulation. Where do all these go and what impact can they have on the environment?
When you look at your tea bag, what do you see? To many people, this is a means for the tea leaves to seep flavor into their tea. But these are more than that. And while you may think that they are biodegradable, that may not be the case.
So as much as you may want to compost them and save the world, that might not be an option. The thing is most of these bags are made of plastic. Thus begs the question, what are you to do with them?
Think about it like this. What do you do with your tea bag after using it? If you are like most people, you throw it into the waste bin. Out of sight, out of mind, and that’s about it.
But with millions of these in the world, a number that keeps growing daily, is this the best option? Should we be okay with having millions of these bags in dump sites and other such places? Can we save the world by composting them? Well, this article will answer these and more questions.
Is composting tea bags a good idea?
The good news is that composting tea bags is possible, and many organizations will advise you as much. If you are into home composting, this is a great way to add to the manure nutritional profile. You can also offer the waste to someone who likes making compost.
At the end of the composting, any remaining parts of the tea bags can be removed by hand. They can then go back to the compost heap and degrade once again. That seems like a pretty easy thing.
But that is in theory. When it comes to practicality, it might not be the case. You can leave the tea bags in the compost heap for years only to find them intact. What does that mean?
Well, if you look at most tea bags, you will assume that they are all paper. But that is not the case. Most of the bag is paper, accounting for about 70%. However, the rest of the makeup contains plastic, and that is the cause of the problem.
Manufacturers rely on plastic to seal the bag and keep it from losing moisture and flavor. That is why the tea bags offer such fresh tea leaves. The problem is that this 30% makeup prevents the bag from totally decomposing as it should.
Luckily, there are some biodegradable options in the market. Thus, if you wish to reduce wastage by making compost, that is always an option. All you have to do is to understand what kind of teabag you have.
What are the benefits of composting tea bags?
Once you find a tea bag that you can compost, the question lies in why you should do it. Even when working with a partially degradable bag, you will ask yourself why you are taking that step.
Well, it comes down to enriching your soil for better yield in the years to come. You see, using compost also reduces pests, and it increases aeration in the soil. Here are some reasons why you should add tea bag composting to your list of things to do:
1. Natural Fertilization
Why pay for fertilizer yet you can make some out of your kitchen waste? Tea bags are some of the components you can rely on in making a natural fertilizer for your garden. As the tea leaves decompose, they add nutrients to the soil, and the same goes for the paper.
These nutrients aid in water retention and improve the quality of the soil. If you want to get more out of the tea bag, you should brew it again and use the tea on plants as a liquid fertilizer.
Note that you should only do this after having determined the pH of the soil. When working with black tea bags, you will add acidity to the soil, which may improve or harm the health of your plants.
2. Adieu Pests
Pests will often stay away from strong scents as these work in deterring them. You will probably notice that many people use coffee grounds in their gardens for this benefit. Well, the same goes for tea bags as they have a similar effect.
If you are having trouble controlling pests that are damaging your garden, this could be the solution. Not only should you add the bags, but you can also brew them to make weak tea. Sprinkle the liquid on the affected plants and leave the bags on the ground for the most effect.
3. Fewer Weeds
How do you feel about weeding your garden? Well, as much as people may term it as therapeutic, it can also be cumbersome. Who wants to spend all morning bent over weeds that seem to appear every other week? If you would rather reduce the time spent in the garden, than add it, you can rely on tea bags.
They discourage the growth of weeds, and this allows your plants to grow devoid of competition. The healthy harvest at the end of the season should be proof that these bags worked their magic.
4. Reduced Fungi
The growth of fungi on your plants and garden can reduce your plant yield, which can be frustrating. Before reaching for chemicals, how about you use the tea bags to your advantage? These can fight fungal growth and keep your plants healthy.
If you want the best results, you can use black tea and chamomile options as they have the most effects. You can also brew tea from them and use it on the affected parts.
5. Worm Food
Having worms in your garden adds to its health as these organisms work in fertilizing the soil as well as aerating it. As they move in the soil, they make channels through which water and air can get to the plant roots.
These worms love compost piles which are rich in tea leaves or coffee grounds. They can feed on these leaves, adding to the nutritional composition of the compost pile.
6. Seedling Growth
You can also rely on the tea bags to provide an ideal environment for the growth of seedlings. The tea leaves can act as a food source for the young plants and aid in water retention. The transplanted plants should be healthy enough to fight off pests and diseases for the most part.
7. Waste Reduction
Using tea bags as part of your compost also reduces wastage. The less garbage that gets to landfills, the cleaner the world becomes. It might not look like much right now, but over the years, your efforts will amount to quite a lot. One tea bag a day and you will get there.
Above all, tea bags are rich in acids which can break down other items in your compost pile. Thus, you can have your compost sooner than you thought. If the tea bag is not compostable, you can get rid of the paper and use the tea leaves alone.
The good thing is that most tea bags are compostable. If you find that it is not the case, you should choose another brand. Alternatively, you can open the bags and use the loose leaves instead. Your garden can benefit a lot from the use of these loose leaves. And if you can add the paper too, then all the better. Happy composting!