We have seen an incredible shift in awareness of our environmental impact over the last decade. After the continued success of Fairtrade International in promoting economic stability and well-being for producer communities since 1997, the focus has now widened to the health of our planet.
It can be quite overwhelming to make the right decision when we stare at the supermarket shelves. Brands and certifications compete relentlessly for our attention, each one trying to convince us that they are the ‘greenest’. So much so, in fact, that there is now a term to describe the deceptive marketing spin used by companies to convince us that they are environmentally friendly: ‘greenwashing’.
One product claims to be carbon neutral, another carbon free, and another carbon zero – what’s the difference? It can be tough to cut through all of the names and terms, but we think the best way to prepare yourself is by stripping away the marketing and getting to the core of the issue – how are the products made, and what are they made from?
The root of the word, ‘grad’, means “to step or move”, and its prefix, ‘de’, means “downward”. Biodegradable is therefore used to describe anything that can be broken down into basic substances through normal environmental processes.
Plant based products, such as the SoilonTM mesh used to package our teabags, are biodegradable, while mineral substances such as glass and plastic usually aren’t. Perhaps you’ve come across the term ‘single use plastic’? A single use plastic is exactly what you’d expect – a mineral compound that can only be used once before it enters landfill, incapable of being broken down.
Alongside products being recyclable, Fairtrade and Organic, when something is biodegradable it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Even as more and more people are recycling their plastics, a significant proportion still ends up in landfill. Biodegradable products are made from renewable materials which are then broken down into non-toxic components.
Our commitment to environmental responsibility is reflected in our decision to produce SoilonTM mesh tea bags and fully biodegradable Nespresso capsules. We realise the scarcity of resources and the physical limits of the planet we live on, and prioritise the triple line of ‘people and planet, then profit’. Our commitment to sustainability is highlighted through our deadline of being net carbon neutral by 2030.
Environmental protection also goes hand in hand with our commitment to the Fairtrade movement. To sell Fairtrade products, farmers have to improve soil and water quality, manage pests, avoid using harmful chemicals, manage waste, reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and protect biodiversity.
A standard tea bag contains around 0.04g of plastic. This is usually used to heat seal the bag, but it’s also a cheaper material to produce with and is favoured by large companies due to the cost saving. By comparison, our tea bags contain exactly 0.00g of plastic.
If we multiply the predicted number of bags drunk (125,000) by the total amount of plastic in a standard bag (0.04g), we arrive at a total plastic saving of 4820g since August 2020.