Zero Waste Teatime

When it comes to baking, a few things can change your waste output. One of them is buying many of your ingredients in bulk and with your own containers, which really is easier than you might think! The other is using silicone baking implements instead of disposable items when you’re going for a nonstick experience. For example, I swear by silicone baking mats instead of parchment paper. They are thin, flexible mats that come in several standard baking tray sizes and allow you to create a nonstick surface. Basically, they’re genius! Another silicone item I like is my muffin pan, since the muffins just pop right out, no paper needed.

Once you’ve taken your scones off their mat or your muffins out of their pan, it’s time for tea! As a daily tea drinker, it’s important to me that my routine be low on waste. While many companies use recyclable materials for their packaging, it’s hard to tell from the innocent-looking cardboard box whether the tea bags inside are individually wrapped or not, and if so, whether their packaging is paper or plastic. Tea bags themselves can be made of natural fibers, which are therefore compostable, but some are made with synthetic fibers (those tea bags that feel silky and meshlike), so into the trash they go! The easiest way to avoid all this is to use loose-leaf tea.

Photo credit: the beauty in simple

Tea shops are a great way to access more types of tea than you’ve ever seen in one place, get recommendations, and try sample sizes, but you can also find loose-leaf tea at the grocery store. If you do the latter, just remember to check the labels – some companies use packaging that looks like it would hold loose tea (think a fancy tin) but still has tea bags. In order to steep your tea leaves, you’ll need a tea strainer or fabric tea bag (if you’re the crafty sort, there are even tutorials for making your own). The package your tea came in will say how much to use and how long to brew, or if you’ve bought in bulk, the company should have a website with steeping instructions. Once you’re all set, it’s as easy as anything! Scoop of tea leaves, mug of hot water, done and done.