Over the years I have found so many different ways to reduce waste as a small business. When we think about waste as a global problem, it can seem insurmountable. If every person and business on the planet just focused on what they could do and what changes they are willing to make, it would have a huge impact on the health of our planet.
I wanted to share a few of the things that we are doing here at Inspired Leaf Teas to help reduce waste. Some of our waste reducing processes have been in place since we started the business and some have evolved more recently.
We have been in business for over 11 years at this point and have never had to purchase any type of packaging materials so ship our teas to customers. You might wonder how we have been able to accomplish this since most orders require some type of packaging to make sure your tea tins arrive in perfect condition. When we first started the business I would save any type of packaging material that came with an incoming shipment of ingredients or supplies, then re-use those materials in outgoing orders. As the business grew and we had more orders going out I needed more packaging material. The solution was to use 2 different sources of what could be waste from our packaging processes. The labels that go on our tea tins come on a waxed paper backing. I started running that wax paper backing through a paper shredder and making my own packaging material. Now we are giving that potential waste a second purpose. The other source of packaging material is from excess tea bag material. We package our own pyramid tea bags on site with a pyramid tea bagging machine. The material is put on the machine in a big roll. As the machine makes the individual pyramid tea bags, there is a strip of excess material that is left over. This material makes great packaging for your orders.
The tea bag material itself is a product that I am very excited about. We have recently switched our tea bag material to a new product that is made from sugar cane pulp that is left over after harvesting of sugar cane. This sugar cane waste is made into a wonderful woven fabric that is safe to steep tea in and the best part is that it is compostable. After you brew your cup of tea, the bag and tea can go right into the compost. If they end up in the landfill it’s nice to know that they will break down and become part of the soil again. Those silky tea bags that are made of plastic aren’t going anywhere and become part of our waste problem. They also leech chemicals when steeped in hot water. Plastic is not an ingredient that anyone should want in their tea.
We also re-use cardboard boxes that we receive whenever we can. That’s why I’m a big fan of cardboard boxes that aren’t printed on. There is a better chance that the box will get additional uses if it isn’t branded. How many Amazon boxes might get a second use if they didn’t say Amazon on them!
This last one is a fun project that we have done with pallets that we receive our tea tins on. I love flowers and gardening so my husband and I turned wooden pallets into planter boxes. They look great hanging on the fence and give those pallets a fun second use.
I’m always looking for the next eco friendly step for this small business to take. I look forward to when there are more options available for small business as far as packaging and supplies. We’ll keep doing our research and continue to do our part to reduce, reuse and recycle.
Think about your daily life and see if you can commit to making a few changes that will help our planet. A few things that we have implemented in our home are: using laundry sheets instead of liquid in big plastic bottles, refillable water bottles instead of plastic, shampoo bars instead of liquid in plastic bottles, recyclable dental floss that comes in refills for a glass container, and growing our own vegetables. I would love to hear what you things you do to help reduce waste. We can all learn from each other.