Composting is a little bit like magic. You can take food scraps that would otherwise be headed to your local landfill and instead use it to make hearty, healthy, rich soil. Some compostable things are a no brainer, like fruit and vegetable peels, greens that are past their prime, and other organic food scraps. Other things seem like they might be compostable, but it’s hard to be sure. One such thing: tea bags. Can you compost tea bags?
Before we get to answering that question, we need to talk about what can be found inside of the tea bag itself.
What’s in a tea bag?
If you open up a tea bag’s package and have a look at it, you’ll find yourself with a cloth bag, a little string, a paper tab, and presumably dried tea leaves inside of the bag. But that might not be all there is to your tea bag. Tea bags can contain things you might not think to look for, or can’t even see!
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Tea bags often contain a very small staple that holds the dipping string and tab to the teabag itself. Before composting a tea bag, this metal staple should be removed from the bag.
Chances are, you’ve heard of the dangers associated with microplastics. Unfortunately, our favorite tea brands aren’t exempted from the problem. According to one study, some premium tea bags can shed billions of tiny particles of plastic. Not good for you or your compost heap!
Pesticide residue tests on commercial tea bags do often find some trace amount of pesticides in tea. Whether or not this is deadly or detrimental to humans when steeping a bag of tea is debatable, and most lean toward no. Still, some teas are grown with pesticides, and so you have to make a decision about whether or not that matters to you when composting a tea bag.
Can you compost tea bags?
Given that there are things in tea bags that we might not want to have in our compost, the answer to this question is a little bit complicated to answer. Can you compost tea bags? Generally, sure. But there is a small chance that you may be inadvertently adding pesticides, plastics, or metals to your compost heap.
There are some workarounds, though. You can open up your tea bags and dump the contents into your compost heap or, even better, start brewing with loose leaf tea instead of packaged tea. This reduces the amount of waste you produce anyway.
Keep Reading: How Long Does It Take To Make Compost?