Wednesday, January 9, 2008

#154 - Tea for Two

And Two for Tea

You're supposed to sing those two versus up there, in case you didn't realize. If you didn't sing it the first time, please go back and do it again. I'll wait.

Thank you.

Today's change has to do with tea. But I bet you already guessed that. You're smart like that. Anyhow, I've decided to swap my daily dose of IBC Root Beer with iced tea. You may wonder why. Or you may not. I'll tell you anyhow.

As you know, we went on vacation over the holidays. As you don't know, this meant that I missed our bi-weekly recycling pick up and now have an entire month's worth of recyclables sitting in my garage. It is an OBSCENE amount of waste. Recyclable waste, yes. But waste nonetheless.

I spent a good portion of 2007 trying to minimize the amount of non-recyclable trash our household generates. And between the diligent recycling, the shunning of non-recyclable plastics and the composting of foodscraps and tissues, I managed to get us down to one 13-gallon trash bag per week. That's pretty good, especially considering where we started. But now it's time to focus on the recyclables. Because even though these items are (hopefully) given new life as different products, they are using up a lot of fossil fuels to do so. [sidenote: if you want to see where some of our recyclable plastic ends up, check out Beth's recent post about the recycling facilities in China]

And so, this will be the first of many steps I take to reduce the amount of recyclables I put out at the curb. By switching from a bottled soda to home brewed tea, I'll be removing 7 -10 bottles a week from our recycle bin.

Alas, it is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to my sweet IBC. Farewell fond friend. You shall be missed. But it was either you or the Woodchuck cider and to be honest, I'm pretty sure you'd choose the same.


My IBC was sold in glass bottles with non-recyclable metal caps. They were packaged with heavy duty cardboard and sold in packs of six. The total weight of each six pack was approximately 3.5 pounds. My Lipton tea bags are packaged in compostable bags with strings attached by a metal staple. Each is wrapped in a paper bag and 24 are packaged in a lightweight cardboard box. Total weight of each package is approximately 10 ounces. I add my own tap water.

So you can see, I am cutting way down on recyclable bottles. The small staple is about 1/10 the size of a cap. And, for every 24 servings, I'm saving roughly 13 pounds in transportation weight. This doesn't even touch on the fact that I'm eliminating the need for the corn syrup, which is a whole other post about Dow and pesticides and such.

Now just imagine how much greener my next batch will be when I find someplace to buy loose tea and can just reuse a cheesecloth bag or something!

Difficulty Level: 2 out of 5

I will miss my root beer. And, to me at least, iced tea has always been a summer drink so it will just feel weird drinking it in January. But today was warm and sunny here and I made my first batch ever of winter sun tea.

And believe me, it tasted a lot better than it looks. Now if I can just figure out how to make the cider.....


Wendy said...

Good for you!

I gave up soda for tea about a year or so ago. It's been great, and I use "green" tea instead of the regular orange pekoe or black tea that we all know and love, which means it's actually better for me, and with real cane sugar instead of "high fructose corn syrup" as a sweetner, the health benefits are even greater. I even bought a camellia sinesis bush, which is where our "tea" leaves come from so that I could make my own. I use a tea infuser with the loose leaf tea. The ones with a mesh screen work better than the "balls." The tea leaves are all compostable, and if I make my own (when the plants mature), the only waste will be the container the sugar comes in.

My husband started making cider this past summer. We have a batch brewing right now, and a couple of bottles still left from our last batch ;). The bottles are reusable.

Glad you're up and running :).

SustainableStyle said...

We're hard core tea drinkers and used to spend $40.00 a month in organic, unbleached tea bags.

A few months ago I bought a French Press (40.00) and now we brew bulk tea (29.00 a lb). It works SO well and there is nothing to dispose of except tea leaves (compost!). Plus we only spend about 10.00 a month in bulk tea. Good luck!

Stephanie said...

Good ideas. I am going to make one of my 2008 resolutions to decrease my trash. I've started bringing lunch to work instead of buying it in the cafeteria. That is saving a plastic cup, fork, knife and styrofoam container every day. Not to mention, the food is much better and I'm saving money! Good for me, good for the planet. Keep up the good work.

Green Bean said...

Great change - planet-wise and health-wise. We gave up soda a while ago (though my husband just snuck a bottle of Diet Coke in the fridge last week). I started juicing more - apple juice in the fall and that reminds me that I should go pick my oranges for some OJ. My current challenge is trying to replicate the Indian Cilantro Chutney that I buy at the farmer's market and is packaged in PLASTIC! Recyclable but still, having seen Beth's piece and also checking out, I'm also looking for ways to cut back on even the recyclables.

Jennifer said...

"And, to me at least, iced tea has always been a summer drink"

Face it Erin, your a southern gal now and as such you drink sweet tea year round. ;)

BTW: You forgot the huge cost savings of bying tea bags over bottled root beer. The extra cash should help with the pain.

Vera said...

Great job! We never buy soda. I usually drink loose tea (hot!). Though I still think of iced tea as a summer drink, the hubs thinks otherwise. But then again, he is the southern boy.

dace said...


If you are trying to get over Root Beer addiction, I highly recommend a tea called "Lapacho" -- it is not actually from the tea plant, but you brew it like tea. The taste reminds me of Root Beer, minus the bubbles. Okay, okay, it is also a healthy drink. . . but don't let that sway your choice.

Kudos for your efforts and for sharing your experiences with others through this blog.

Here is an entertaining blog that you may gain inspiration from:
Written by Riana,an American who lives in the south of France and who has made a 1 year commitment of non-consumerism - having taken this vow when her first born child was all of 6 months old. She has a Very GOURMET approach to the non-consumerism. This girl has great food ideas (and superb photos)

leslie said...

I was moving my feet in a 'softshoe' dance while humming to the tea for two tune...if only I had a straw boaters hat and a cane...
I am a fan of root beer, and understand the sacrifice.
I am also a fan of Celestial Seasonings teas. Does anyone know anything 'unecological' about these teas? They seem to be conscientious.

Melinda said...

Awesome change. You're also reducing your HFCS intake, to boot!