Environment Magazine

Can You Recycle Tea Bags? (And 7 Clever Uses For Old Tea Bags)

Posted on the 07 October 2020 by Rinkesh @ThinkDevGrow

Can You Recycle Tea Bags?

If there is a beverage we can all agree most people love, it is tea. This isn’t far-fetched, considering that it comes attached with numerous benefits. So, you can bet thousands of people get teabags each year.

However, while tea has so many benefits, the bags they come in are an entirely different issue. Teabag packaging comes in various forms, such as silk, plastic, and paper. In turn, this packaging continues to attract attention.

tea-bags-potSource: Canva

Well, one thing that is constantly coming up is recycling. After you finish with the tea, what can you do with the tea bags? What is their effect on the environment? Can you recycle the teabags?

Well, we understand that these concerns are important. As such, we have come up with this post.

Here, we will answer the question, can you recycle teabags. Then, we will go on to address other important issues.

Dive in!

Are Tea Bags Recyclable?

Now to address the topic question, ‘are tea bags recyclable?’ Honestly, the answer isn’t as straightforward as you would expect. You can recycle some tea bags, and you will find it impossible to recycle others.

Let us explain!

As we stated earlier, tea bags packaging comes in various forms like silk, paper, plastic. However, the popular ones come from paper with a little bit of plastic.

It is this double packaging process that makes recycling of teabags more complicated than necessary. You see, these little amounts of plastic are present in tea bags to prevent them from falling apart.

Yes, they do so much good while using them. However, later they cause so many problems for recycling companies. This is because you cannot recycle this form of plastic called polypropylene.

As such, recycling companies will turn down teabags that come in this form. It is straightforward; you cannot recycle teabags that come lined with polypropylene.

However, some teabags options come in bio-plastic. It is a recent development in teabag packaging. Even more, it is an eco-friendly option that you can recycle quite easily. Of course, as soon as you find a capable recycling center.

So, as you can see, the question of whether you can recycle tea bags or not is not quite straightforward. You can recycle teabags provided they come solely in paper form or bio-plastic. Unfortunately, if they come mixed with polypropylene, you cannot recycle it.

Are Tea Bag Wrappers Recyclable?

So far, we have been able to assess the possibility of recycling teabags. Now, you are wondering whether the same thing is obtainable in the case of tea bag wrappers. Well, it is quite straightforward. Let’s go!

In clear terms, you cannot recycle tea bag wrappers. In fact, after use, they belong straight in the thrash for subsequent proper disposal. Or you can apply them to creative uses as we will show you later.

Well, the reason for this is quite straightforward.

First, tea bag wrappers mostly come either with polypropylene. Otherwise, they come coated with the same plastic material. And by now, we know for a fact that you cannot recycle this type of plastic. So, in turn, you should not consider recycling tea bag wrappers.

Also, even teabag wrappers that come from paper have the same fate. You cannot recycle them.

This is because they are not big enough to undergo the entire recycling process. As such, they have no choice but to end up getting disposed to the landfill.

Are Tea Bags Compostable?

By now, you’re probably wondering if you can add your tea bags to a compost mix.

In answering your million-dollar question, the answer is both yes and no. This is because it depends on the makeup of the teabag.

Precisely, if a tea bag comes from plastic, then you cannot compost it. This is because plastic microparticles make it quite difficult for tea bags to get digested into the soil.

However, where your tea bag comes from paper, you can compost it. As you already know, paper comes from trees, which is a living thing. In turn, it means it can supply nutrients to the soil when you use it in a compost mix.

As such, you must always check the producers’ website and ensure you purchase compostable tea bags. This way, you can transform your teabags into valuable soil nutrients through composting.

On the flip side, you can compost the tea leaves inside the teabag. Even more, they constitute a great addition to the compost heap. So, you will not have to worry about throwing them away.

So, even if your teabags say no to composting, it is not the end. You can move on to its tea leaves and apply it to great use.

Are Tea Bags Biodegradable?

In case you are not sure what biodegradable means, it means for an item to decay and return to the soil? And all this through naturally occurring actions of microorganisms and bacteria.

Well, the answer is quite straightforward. Your tea bag will not biodegrade effectively.

While tea bags are made of about 70 to 80% paper, there is still polypropylene to deal with. And this presence of polypropylene in your teabag means a problem.

Naturally, this plastic cannot biodegrade and will take over 500 years before biodegradation comes into the picture. So, when you dispose of them, they sit comfortably in landfills and continue to take space.

However, this is not the same as the content of your teabags. Typically, your tea leaves are biodegradable. Even more, it does not take so much time for them to degrade. However, you will need to empty them from the teabag to speed up the process.

Well, from this, you can tell that it is not the best idea to leave your teabags lying in landfills. As you will find out later, it is bad for the environment.

tea-bag-hot-tea

Can You Put Old Tea Bags in the Garden?

When most people finish with their tea, they toss the bag into a trash can without an afterthought of possible uses. If you do not belong in this category, you are most likely wondering about the alternative uses for these teabags. And one thing that comes to your mind is its garden use.

So, you are wondering, can you put old tea bags in the garden. Well, the answer is YES. Some of your teabags can prove quite useful in a garden. In fact, when in your garden, they contribute various benefits such as:

  • They increase soil nutrients
  • They reduce the quantity of the garbage that goes into a landfill
  • The smell of teabags can keep off pests from the garden
  • They increase the decomposition rate of other items.

However, it would be best to keep in mind that there are some caveats when using them. First, identify those with polypropylene. This is because such options will not decompose and contribute to your garden.

Are Tea Bags Bad For the Environment?

Suppose you are an environmental enthusiast. Or you are fully invested in promoting a green planet. We are sure you’d be quite interested in knowing the answer to this question.

According to tea experts, tea bags are bad for the environment. If you have been following this article closely, we bet you have an idea why.

However, do not worry. We will explain it again.

Teabags contain about 25% plastic. These plastics do not just pose gradual damages to the body. They are also a bad option for the environment because you can neither recycle nor compost them.

Also, these teabags contain plastic that cannot fully break down after disposal. Now, when you dispose of them, they result in the production of a large amount of waste in landfills worldwide. In turn, this contributes to environmental pollution.

We bet you do not need anyone to tell you that pollution is bad for the environment. For instance, some of these plastics find their way to aquatic bodies where they kill aquatic life.

What Can I Do with Used Tea Bags? (Creative Uses)

The next thing you are thinking about is what you can do with your teabags. Well, luckily for you, there are various things you can do with your used teabags.

So you can get right to it, here are some good alternatives you can creatively apply your teabags to.

1. Carpet Freshener

You can use the leaves from the teabag as a freshener for your carpet.

All you need do is apply the leaves and some baking soda on the smelly areas. Leave for 20 minutes. After this, your carpet will smell as good as new. It doesn’t just eliminate carpet odors; it also works well on fridge and shoe odors.

2. Skin Hydration and Reduction of Eye Puffiness

You can use the tea bags to rejuvenate dry skin by applying the liquid on your skin. Placing cool tea bags on your eyelids can also help reduce under-eye circles as well as eye puffiness.

3. Heal Sunburn

It can also be useful in healing skin after sunburn and reduce swelling. Like in the instance above, all you need to do is place it in the area. Then, you are good to go.

4. Wood Surface Polish

You can also use old tea bags to polish wooden floors and furniture. And doing this is quite straightforward.

All you need to do is get some tea bags. Then, place it in warm water. Afterward, you can apply it to the surfaces with a soft rag. Trust us. It will leave your wood shining and looking brilliant again.

5. Take A Relaxing Bath

Teabags can also be quite useful for having a relaxing bath. They contain antioxidants, which, when used, can help your skin become hydrated and make you feel relaxed.

6. Restore Color Clothing to Black

Simply by soaking in a tea bag mixture for about 10 minutes, you can make use of tea bags to restore your faded black tee shirt. Also, you will not have to worry about the foul smell.

7. Restore Shine to Your Hair

Apart from being valuable to the skin, you can also use tea bags to make your hair shiny and silky. Apply as you would a shampoo or conditioner. Your hair will thank you for this.

Conclusion

It is no doubt very easy to overlook issues such as recycling and composting your teabags. After all, it has no immediate harmful effect.

However, our planet is our responsibility. Little actions like this, when put together, decide how our environment is.

So, now you see how important it is to pay attention. In fact, you will not only be doing yourself a favor but the whole world. That is why we have taken our time to explain all this. We have also told you creative ways to put your teabag to use for.

So, get on board and safeguard your environment.

References:

https://dengarden.com/misc/Tea-Bags-on-Eyes-and-Other-Uses

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-dec-19-2019-1.5399379/tea-bags-are-bad-for-the-environment-and-bad-for-your-brew-says-tea-expert-1.5399387

https://www.news.com.au/technology/science/are-teabags-ruining-the-environment/news-story/0d73eb37335bd6ca06d9e01be028374f

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