There's plastic in your tea bag. Here's what you can do about it.
There's plastic in your tea bag. Here's what you can do about it.

Plastic is unfortunately ubiquitous. It’s nearly inescapable in our society. It shows up in our homes, the air we breathe, and, according to at least one analysis by the World Wildlife Fund, our stomachs. The average person is ingesting up to five grams of microplastics, roughly the size of a credit card, per week. The thought is enough to put you off of your lunch – which likely came out of a plastic container. 

But plastic shows up in unlikely places, too. You may have never given, say, the potential for plastic in your morning tea bag, a second thought. You pop it in the mug, let it steep and throw it away. We’re not here to be fear-mongering, but the truth of the matter is, every time you use a tea bag that is made with plastic, you are drinking down unwanted particles along with it. According to a McGill University study, tea bags made with plastic, when steeped, released “11.7 billion microplastic and 3.1 billion nanoplastic particles into the water,” adding, “these levels were thousands of times higher than those reported previously in other foods.”

More research needs to be done to determine A) how much plastic we’re actually ingesting and B) how dangerous it is. But there’s no denying it’s at least a little scary. Not to mention, a new study out of the University of Hull states the amount of microplastics we as humans are consuming are reaching potentially “harmful” levels.

Whatever your reason for wanting to better understand and mitigate the amount of plastics you’re letting into your life (and your morning routine), we’re here to help. Below, we break down exactly what microplastics are, the sneaky ways they show up and how you can use Good Pharma’s revolutionary, compostable infuser made from corn to mitigate exposure – without sacrificing your steeping experience. 

What are microplastics?

As the name suggests, microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic, less than five millimeters long. You may often hear about microplastics as they pertain to how they could be impacting our oceans, where an estimated (and whopping) 24 trillion pieces of microplastics are estimated to be found. They pose a potential threat to aquatic life and much is still unknown about the impact it is having on the environment.

But, for as tiny as microplastics are, they’re not quite as small as another harmful phenomenon: nanoplastics. 

So, what are nanoplastics then?

If microplastics are really small, nanoplastics are really, really small. Like,100 nanometers (for comparison’s sake, that same McGill study states the diameter of one strand of hair is about 75,000 nanometers.  Microplastics can break down into nanoplastics, meaning even more opportunity to ingest more, you guessed it, plastic. 


How bad are they for you?

We don’t know for sure. But it doesn’t look too good. Polymers are made all different ways, including some with additives that can cause brain damage, cancers and other health ailments when a person is exposed to them.

No thanks. What can I do differently?

Making small changes can drastically change your level of consumption, and create an overall more pleasant, healthier and enjoyable tea-drinking experience. Loose leaf tea is a good option. Good Pharma’s compostable infuser is a great one. The convenient, plastic-free bag (made from corn), hooks right onto the sides of your drinking vessel of choice, leaving you with an even cleaner, delicious tea flavor and ritual, and none of the plastic. For coffee lovers, an infuser might actually help with flavor, too. It acts as a pour over method, which allows the coffee grounds to bloom and may decrease bitterness.

One thing to keep in mind – there is a bit of extra work involved in ensuring your tea is plastic free. Just because a tea says it’s organic does not mean there is no plastic, and vice versa organic tea might be made with plastic ingredients.

In the ongoing quest toward a more sustainable lifestyle, taking that extra step is an easy way to feel better about your consumption, and the environment.