Americans drank more than 84 billion cups of tea last year, according to the Tea Association of the USA. Unfortunately for the planet, the lion's share of that tea was sold with some form of plastic packaging to keep the product fresh. Just about all plastic packaging from tea ends up in landfills. Which is why a company called teapigs has done away with plastic altogether.
Teapigs first came on the scene in the UK back in 2006 when founders Nick and Louise wanted to launch a higher quality tea company. They focused on the tea’s taste; and, once perfected, began searching for a way to make sustainable packaging for the delicious tea being created.
Plastic is a controversial material that has gotten many tea companies in hot water lately. But teapigs sidestepped these issues with biodegradable tea temples (which look like pyramid-shaped tea bags) made from cornstarch. Labels attached to the tea temples are made of paper and printed with veggie-based ink. And there's not a trace of glue anywhere, since each bag is sealed with heat. Finally, the shape of the tea temple allows for whole leaves to infuse naturally.
With the teabags themselves accounted for, there was still the problem of packaging. How to keep the bags fresh without plastic? Last year, teapigs found a solution. The company got its plastic-free packaging, thanks to a material called Natureflex.
Derived from wood pulp, Natureflex is a nifty material that allows for airtight packaging sans plastic. While changing packing overnight can be challenging for any product company, most of teapigs' bestsellers are already being sold packaged up in this material. Teapigs is working to fully switch the rest of its products over within the next few months.
Apart from changing to Natureflex, the team also incorporates other mindful packaging like cartons made by paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), and printed with vegetable-based ink. And teapigs' tin options are made of tinplate and aluminum, which can be reused or recycled by consumers.
Reusing and recycling are important for the company’s operations, as well. Teapigs reuses cardboard packing cases and enforces recycling throughout the company. There are even snazzy solar panels installed atop teapigs' new tea tasting room. As a result of the company's eco-conscious business model, teapigs is an approved supplier of the Sustainable Restaurant Association.
Teapigs asserts that all the company's teas are natural and void of pesticides. But the company doesn't stop with environmental outreach. Teapigs' humanitarian efforts are just as impressive; like its work with the Point Foundation in Rwanda, which helps orphans and vulnerable young people. Teapigs has already raised more than $280,000 for that cause.