Put simply, these times, they are a-changin' (we may have borrowed that).
You’d be pretty hard pressed to have missed the plastic-free movement that’s swept the nation over the past few months. ‘The Blue Planet effect’ as it’s now widely known, was monumental in allowing us to see the true scale of destruction that our addiction to single use plastic has had/is having on the planet. It was very much a wake up and smell the coffee (…or tea) moment, resulting in more people than ever wanting to make serious change - us included!
Product wise, we’re pretty ahead of the game with our tea temples having been plastic-free and 100% biodegradable from the start. Last year, we also switched our inner plastic bag to a material called Natureflex (wood pulp) which is suitable for home composting – allowing us to become the first tea brand awarded the Plastic Free Trust Mark from A Plastic Planet for our packs of 15 and 50 tea temples.
Related article: How we moved away from excess plastic packaging.
Our packaging may have been doing its bit, but our office definitely wasn’t. Team lunches, office supplies, warehouse deliveries - we knew the plastic-free trust had to extend to ALL areas of the business if we were going to do this properly!
And so, The Big Plastic Clear Out was born – our attempt to turn teapigs HQ completely plastic-free.
We’ve seen lots of tips and tricks to help avoid single use plastic from a personal perspective, but scaling that up to an office environment is another ballgame entirely. We thought we’d document our journey in case any other offices were looking to do something similar. It’ll be no mean feat but we’re hoping that being totally transparent about our successes and struggles will encourage a wider discussion and in turn inspire more offices to get involved!
Our office is around 30 people (so still pretty small in the grand scheme of things) but the amount of plastic we get through is frankly obscene. We’ve implemented a number of super simple changes already:
The problem: Our basic collections weren’t quite cutting it – a lot of councils are limited in what they will/won’t recycle.
The Solution: We signed up with First Mile for our recycling. They collect our food waste, all plastics, paper, cardboard etc. Plus they send monthly reports letting us know how much we’ve actually recycled. We’re on silver currently – next stop, gold!
The problem: teapigs HQ is an office of porridge lovers. Most the team bring in single serve microwave sachets of porridge every morning. Wonderful you’d think – full bellies until lunchtime. However, those sachets have a plastic lining, and currently widely unrecyclable – boo.
The solution: A jar of rolled oats for everyone to share. Simple!
The problem: Our weekly fruit delivery from a certain online supermarket was delivered in ALL the plastic.
The solution: We switched to Fruitful Office – lots of lovely seasonal fruit that comes (for the most part) loose in a basket. We had a couple of things still wrapped – blueberries and grapes. But compared to what we’d used to get through, it was a HUGE reduction. The baskets come wrapped in what looks like plastic film, but this is biodegradable – win win!
The problem: As a tea company, you can imagine we get through a fair bit of milk (both dairy and dairy free!) Like most people, we would buy the big 4 pint plastic bottles and then recycle.
The solution: As seems to be the case for much of these things – we went back to a simpler time, and reinstated a milk bottle delivery. The empties are collected from us every night and reused. We also get a regular dairy free alternative delivery, and doing some research into how their packaging can be best recycled (will keep you updated!)
The problem: Everyone brings in their own lunch, and as such our fridge can get pretty full and by the end of the week a lot gets thrown away. When food ends up in landfill, it rots and releases methane into the atmosphere.
The solution: Food waste collections! Commonplace for a number of homes, however these are scarcely found in office environments. Our tea temples and any food waste can go straight in to our caddy for daily collections. We’ve also implemented ‘Waste Watchers’ whereby every Friday we clear out the fridge and have a communal lunch of any leftovers - having no waste at all is ever better!
A pen amnesty!
The problem: SO.MANY.PENS
The solution: Put simply, we’re not buying anymore plastic pens….between us & at home we have thousands. We’re removing pens from our stationery order, and using up what we have at home/in the office - which should easily last us a billion years.
The problem: Not sure if this is just a teapigs thing, but we go through SO much hummus! We have 7 half opened pots in the fridge at any given moment.
The solution: Communal vats of the stuff! We’re going to see how this goes, but our feeling is that if we make one big pot every week, hopefully we’ll stop buying individual plastic pots. Same goes for soup…as soon as winter hits, our tea tasting room will be renamed the soup making room.
The problem: Bulk buying soap, anti-bac, surface cleaner – it all comes in plastic.
The solution: We buy refillable products where possible. Still not completely ideal, but it’s a start!
The problem: Plastic straws – ‘nuff said.
The solution: We did switch to paper a while back, but have now invested in some very fancy metal straws for anyone wanting to use them.
So, there’s just a few things we’ve implemented in the office – all very manageable switches that didn’t require much research/effort. The real fun will start when we attempt to make our warehouse & supply chain plastic free. We’ll be documenting our journey every step of the way and sharing regular updates so be sure to follow us on social @teapigs and use the hashtag #BigPlasticClearOutto share your own plastic-free tips.
Read more about our green tips and tricks here: