Plastic in Tea Bags… What’s next?

Brits consume on average an impressive 165 million cups of tea a day! But did you know that most tea bags we use contain a plastic called polypropylene? This makes these tea bags noncompostable. Seeing as 96% of us tea-drinkers choose tea bags rather than tea leaves, that’s a lot of micro-plastic being used on a daily basis…

We emailed one of the nation’s favorites, ‘PG Tip’s’ about their current status on plastic in their tea bags and they came back to us with… “Our new tea bags are already in stores, and we’re proud to say we’ve produced over 100 million already. We’re working hard to move all of our pyramid tea bags to the new plant-based material by the end of the year.” Well done PG tips!

The news that tea bags were made from plastic came as a shock to the team at Using Less Stuff and made us wonder what other everyday essentials contain plastic which we might be unaware of…

Chewing gum contains plastic made from synthetic polymers and is non-biodegradable. It is estimated on average that £60 million a year is spent on trying to clean it up off the streets of Britain. The good news? Plastic-free chicle chewing gum is making a comeback which you can find in Iceland.

Wet wipes are usually made from polyester fibres. Some people don’t know this and end up flushing them down the toilet which causes blockages and pollutes our waterways with plastic. It has been reported that the number of wet wipes found on beaches has increased by up to 700% over the last decade.

Clingfilm is a single-use plastic most commonly made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is not only harmful to the environment but could also be harmful to human health especially when heated up. More than 1.2 billion metres of cling film is used by households across the UK every year – this is enough to go around the circumference of the earth 30 times! Like plastic bags, if clingfilm ends up in the sea it can be easily confused for jellyfish by other marine animals and chokes turtles and other creatures that feed on them. Given that there are so many alternatives there really is no excuse to be using this harmful and wasteful resource.

Cigarette Butts are thought to be made solely of cotton however they contain cellulose acetate (the same kind of plastic that is used to make sunglasses, photographic film and much more). There are an estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts littered across the world each year, making them the most common litter. If cigarette butts find their way into the ocean, they can take between 1 and 5 years to decompose however they are often swallowed by marine animals which can block their digestive system.

The message here is simple if you can avoid using single-use plastic, why aren’t you already?


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