For the past six years, Arbor Teas has ”neutralized” its annual operational emissions and its product shipment emissions in partnership with Carbonfund.org. We are committed to making a positive impact on the environment and have taken many steps to reduce emissions by offering only organic teas, packaging our tea in backyard compostable packaging, and using renewable energy sources. However, our teas come from all corners of the world, so the shipping emissions are unavoidable. To mitigate these emissions, we have maintained a CarbonFree® Shipping program to offset the carbon footprint of annual product shipment emissions, and to offset all internal operational emissions, by supporting Carbonfund.org’s renewable energy, energy efficiency and reforestation projects.
Until technology allow us to eliminate carbon emissions entirely, we agree whole-heartedly with CarbonFund.org’s motto:
On Earth Day 2010, Arbor Teas became the FIRST tea company in the United States (to our knowledge) to deliver a full line of organic loose teas in 100% backyard compostable packaging! With the release of this next-generation packaging, we at Arbor Teas advanced our environmental mission, continuing to lead the tea industry through our staunch commitment to sustainable business practices. For the first time ever, tea drinkers are able to compost their tea leaves AND tea packaging together in their home composting system!
Lately, we’ve had several customers ask, “Is it OK to place Arbor Teas packaging in worm composting bins?” We’ve contacted the manufacturer of the films used to create Arbor Teas packaging and we have great news! Yes, Arbor Teas backyard compostable packaging is also safe to use in worm composting bins!
“To meet the AS4736 standard, NatureFlex™ films had to undergo a stringent test regime, carried out by an independent accredited laboratory to the required global standards, in order to confirm that their inclusion will have no negative effect on soil, compost quality or earthworm toxicity.”
We also wanted to share this amazing video with you! Watch films similar to those used in our packaging decompose over the course of 12 weeks.
Note: the worms!
What Makes Arbor Teas Packaging Different?
Our exciting packaging is composed of a cellulose film made from wood pulp sourced from sustainably managed trees. Most of the compostable packaging available in today’s marketplace is only truly compostable in industrial settings optimized for rapid breakdown. By contrast, the film used for Arbor Teas’ new packaging can actually break down in a backyard compost setting. Because of greater variation in moisture and temperature, backyard composting environments have historically been incapable of breaking down so-called “compostable” packaging materials, such as corn-based plastic cups and take-out containers. However, the material in Arbor Teas’ new packages requires a less optimized environment for biodegradation, representing a major advance in low-impact packaging.
It’s so easy nowadays- just point, click and buy. Depending on where you bought from and the availability, you could have your item delivered to your house in about a week. Sounds easy, simple and energy free, right? Well, sort of. While you didn’t necessarily power up your car and drive from store to store scavenging for the perfect item, a lot of fuel energy was probably used in your delivery. So, if an item is being delivered to you what is the best method and why?
Fossil Fuels: What & How
We use biologically-based fossil fuels to power most of our locomotive machineries. Fossil fuels are naturally made from the anaerobic decomposition of dead animals. In fact, the ones we use today are typically millions of years old (some fossils exceeding 650 million)! When animals and plants decompose, they release carbon into the atmosphere at an incredibly slow rate. However, when fossil fuels are burned in order to make fuel energy, the carbon from the decomposing organisms are released at a much higher rate. So, the amount of carbon that should have been released over the span of tens of millions of years is ultimately released in the span of a few hundred years. This extreme release of carbon as carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gasses drives the greenhouse effect responsible for climate change. While it would be difficult to regress back to environmentally “healthy” shipping options such as horse and buggy, it is important, as a consumer, to know your different shipping options and their individual impact on our fragile environment.
As an environmentally conscious consumer, it can be tough to reconcile the material excess of the holiday season with one’s concern for the planet. But how do you cut down on your environmental impact without sacrificing the joys of the season? It’s easier than you think, actually. Aside from sticking with gifts that are inherently more Earth-friendly (such as organic, recycled/recyclable, carbon-offset, etc.), here are some ideas to get you started:
Carpool and Minimize/Consolidate Trips
So you’ve decided to go to the mall – a popular activity this time of year! More than likely, your friends and neighbors need to do a little shopping too, so why not team up and carpool? They may even have gift ideas that you hadn’t considered. But if you already know what you’re going to buy, be sure to plan your route to minimize unnecessary, gas-wasting travel.
Tea is a relatively energy-efficient beverage. A cup of tea, made by boiling only the amount of water you need, produces only about a tenth of the carbon footprint generated by a large cup of cappuccino (Source: “The World’s Water, 2008-2009″ by Peter Gleick, et al, www.waterfootprint.org). To put this into perspective, if you drink four cups of black tea every day for a year, you would have only used up as much energy as a single 40-mile car ride. On the other hand, the energy involved in a three-a-day latte habit is equivalent to flying halfway to Europe!
What Does Carbon Have To Do With Cold Brewing Tea?
Actually, there is even more you can do to reduce your CO2 emissions when it comes to tea-making. We covered a variety of “green brewing” techniques in a previous post. These are certainly great ways to reduce your carbon footprint, but there is yet another easy and practical alternative to the regular brewing process: cold-brewing! As its name suggests, this technique involves making your favorite tea with cold water, slashing energy consumption by eliminating the water-heating process.
If you’re reading this blog, chances are you’re an environmentally-conscious tea drinker like us. While we’ve made big strides towards comprehensive sustainability (by sticking with organic tea, carbon-offsetting our business activities, using backyard-compostable packaging, etc.), buying your tea from an eco-friendly company such as ours is only part of the equation – the tea still needs to be brewed! Because we live in a world with limited freshwater resources and a dependence on fossil fuels for energy, we need to do all we can to minimize waste in our daily rituals – including tea drinking! With that in mind, we’d like to offer five quick (but hard-core) tips to help out:
Measure Then Fill. Start the process by filling your kettle with the water you intend to use for brewing, pouring in only the amount of water required to fill your teapot. This way, you’re not wasting any water, and you’re not expending any more energy than necessary to bring the water to the right temperature. If you don’t think you’ll drink a whole pot, then fill the amount of cups you intend on drinking with water and pour those into your kettle instead.
Earlier this week, NASA released a report confirming the meteorological speculations: 2010 is expected to be the hottest year on record, based upon the temperatures witnessed so far this year. NASA’s report, which can be found here, states, “2010 is likely, but not certain, to be the warmest year in the GISS record.” GISS refers to the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA’s program for studying global change. This is bad news for tea lovers – whether you’re environmentally-minded or not! In recent history, the tea producing world has encountered serious trouble from the onset of global warming, from a variety of climate-related hardships. Here are a few examples from our prior post on the impact of global warming on tea production:
Drought in China leaving low-lying plants covered in dust, blocking crucial sunshine;
Intense rainfall contributing to erosion of slopes and loss of plantings in India;
Unprecedented frost in Rwanda, causing loss of 70% of leaves;
Erratic rainfall in Kenya, with drought occurring twice as frequently;
Higher temperatures in China contributing to increased pest populations.
NASA has noted that the effects of La Nina (the counterpart to El Nino that causes some cooling effects) will probably muddle the data for the rest of the year, bringing the year-long average close to the record setting temperatures of 2005. If 2010 were not a year affected by La Nina, NASA scientists believe that it would undoubtedly be the hottest year on their records. But even with the cooling effects of La Nina, 2010 will at least parallel the temperature anomaly of 2005.
Starting a compost pile in your backyard is a simple and effective way to lower your home’s impact on the planet. Not only does it significantly reduce the amount of waste going into landfills, but it provides an outstanding source of nutrient-rich soil, which might facilitate you growing your own hyper-local food. And if composting became the norm, it would also lessen the amount of carbon emitted into the atmosphere by garbage trucks and trash processing facilities. So let’s get started!
Building your own compost bin at home can be simple!
The first thing you’re going to need is a place to start piling up your compostable materials. This can either be on the bare earth, or on pavement. If you choose to have your compost pile on pavement, you’ll want to put a couple of inches of moist dirt on the bottom as a base layer for your compost pile – this helps to retain moisture, which is very important for the composting process (Source: Groundwater.org). Although not entirely necessary, many people choose to construct or buy a compost bin – something to keep the composting area tidy and prevent any animals from searching for food in your pile. This can be as big or as small as you’d like, depending on how much compostable material you will have available. It’s very easy to construct a compost bin out of materials like chicken wire, shipping pallets, cinder blocks – whatever you’ve got!
In today’s steadily expanding ‘green’ market, there is a lot of confusion among ethical consumers about what exactly some of the labeling means – and with good reason. There is an incredible amount of new terminology coming to the marketplace. A good portion of the terminology has to do with the packaging materials, which are a major concern now that the amount of waste being dumped in the oceans and third world countries has become public knowledge. To help clarify things, we’d like to explain the difference between ‘compostable,’ ‘biodegradable,’ ‘degradable,’ and the standard of our own packaging material, ‘backyard compostable.’
Beginning on Earth Day 2010, Arbor Teas became the first tea company to deliver its full line of organic loose teas in 100% backyard compostable packaging! With the release of this next generation packaging, we at Arbor Teas advanced our environmental mission, continuing to lead the tea industry through our staunch commitment to sustainable business practices. For the first time ever, tea drinkers are now able to compost their tea leaves AND tea packaging together in their home composting system!
ABOUT OUR BACKYARD COMPOSTABLE TEA PACKAGING
Our exciting new packaging is composed of a cellulose film made from wood pulp sourced from sustainably-managed trees. Most compostable packaging available in today’s marketplace is only truly compostable in industrial settings optimized for rapid breakdown. By contrast, the films used for Arbor Teas’ new packaging can actually breakdown in a backyard compost setting.
Because of greater variation in moisture and temperature, backyard composting environments have historically been incapable of breaking down so-called “compostable” packaging materials (e.g. corn plastic cups and take-out containers and the like). However, the material chosen for Arbor Teas’ new packages requires a less optimized environment for biodegradation, representing a major advancement in low-impact packaging. continue reading »
This blog serves as a more casual forum for news and updates about Arbor Teas, as well as issues related to tea and sustainable living. Check out Arbor Teas for one of the largest selections of organic and Fair Trade Certified teas available!