Recycle Tea Bags: 4 Ways to Have a Green Tea Party

By Mali Anderson in Thinking Sustainably

Regular tea drinkers notice how quickly used tea bags add up. But all of those tea bags don't have to go in the trash—you can recycle tea bags, or you can avoid using them in the first place. Here are four ways to create less waste while enjoying your (many) cups of tea.

1. Go Bag Free

If you are in the habit of using tea bags, make a change and try loose-leaf tea or make your own tea blends. Buying or making tea in bulk not only saves you money, it cuts down on other tea packaging like foil wrappers, staples, and cardboard boxes. If you opt for loose-leaf, a tea infuser or teapot is an ideal brewing solution. There are plenty of styles to choose from, from Grandma's china pattern to kooky animal prints, so you can be sure to find a strainer or pot that will look stellar on your countertop.

homemade tea

2. Make Your Own Tea Bags

Making tea bags can be almost as good as avoiding them altogether. Look for coffee filters made out of recycled paper that you can fold or twist around a spoonful of loose-leaf tea, or sew simple bags out of cheesecloth. A canister of your special blend in homemade tea bags makes a great gift!

3. Recycle Tea Bags

There are plenty of ways to recycle tea bags, including re-soaking used tea bags. This tea-enhanced water actually provides some nutrients if you use it to water your plants, says Tea Happiness. You can also break open the bag and sprinkle the wet leaves around potted plants for a similar effect. If you have started your garden from seed, it's a natural way to give a boost to the growing herbs and vegetables for your table.

Used tea bags can also be a great way to keep your glass and mirrors clean. Simply wipe the mirror or glass pane with a moist, used tea bag and dry with a soft cloth.

Leftover tea can even refresh your skin. Add a few used tea bags to a bowl of hot water and hold your head above the steam to moisturize your face. The same idea can be used to calm tired feet, too. Simply add the used tea bags and warm water to a soaking basin, immerse your feet, and relax. This is especially nice with an aromatic herbal tea like peppermint!

used tea bags

4. Compost Your Tea and Tea Bags

After you remove the tags and staples on the bags, you can add your tea to the compost. Just be sure your bags are made of paper or muslin. It's even easier to dump leftover tea from infusers or teapots into the compost bucket.

According to the University of Florida, tea bags make great food for vermicomposting, which uses worms in your compost to produce rich, healthy soil from your kitchen waste. If you make your own tea bags out of coffee filters, they can go right in the compost when you're done.

Whether you opt for using tea strainers, recycling bags, composting your tea, or a combination, it's easy to reduce waste while you enjoy teatime.

What do you do with all that leftover tea? Do you make your own? Share your thoughts and photos on Twitter.

Image source: Mali Anderson

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Why It’s Good

For many, drinking tea is part of their daily routine. If you notice your tea waste adding up, here are some ideas to help tea drinkers be proactive and use their tea again in a sustainable, healthy way.