Every time I brew myself a cup of tea, I feel super weird about tossing out the tea bag. And if you drink it daily, you’re building up quite the collection of waste. The good news is they don’t need to be tossed into the garbage. Instead, there are plenty of different ways you can put them to use aside from in a steaming-hot cup of water.
Tea bags might not seem like a major threat to the environment compared to some of the top offenders, but they’re still causing harm. According to the BBC, most tea bags are made up of at least 25 percent plastic, which doesn’t allow them to completely decompose. Because of that, they’re only added to the millions of pounds of plastic that winds up in landfills and the ocean every year.
If you shop smart—and use your tea bags wisely!—they can better your life in many ways without hurting the planet in the process. Here are the best hacks to start with.
When you buy biodegradable tea bags (like those from Balaggan Tea), you’re able to compost them. They also make for great plant food. The Spruce says sprinkling used tea leaves around the base of your plants that like acidity, then working them into the soil, can help them grow.
There’s no need to buy fancy bath bombs when you have used tea bags on hand. After filling your tub with warm water, toss a couple of them in for a relaxing, skin-soothing, and great-smelling soak. Two great choices to start with? Chamomile and ginger tea.
Your used tea bags can basically give you a spa day in the comfort of your own home. After they cool, experts recommend placing them on your closed eyelids to help reduce inflammation. Particularly green tea or chamomile, which always do the trick.
I currently have an opened box of baking soda in my refrigerator to help eliminate any odors that pop up, but used tea bags might be an even better choice. After drying them out, you can put them in the back of the fridge where they’ll help absorb anything stinky. You can also use the same tactic with your gym shoes, putting a dried, used tea bag in each shoe after working out.
Who needs Windex when you have used tea bags lying around? By rubbing the still-damp tea bag on glass surfaces—like mirrors and windows—it’ll help get rid of dirt, grime, and fingerprints.
Tea bags can do so much more in the kitchen than make a cozy cup of tea. You can also use them in your cooking. Reuse tea bags to create tea-infused cookies, soups, risotto, pasta, and more. With all the different flavors available, the possibilities are endless.