A picture of a cup of tea in a glass cup and saucer on the brown wooden table. The idea of beating plastic pollution this International Tea Day. A picture of a cup of tea in a glass cup and saucer on the brown wooden table. The idea of beating plastic pollution this International Tea Day.

Sip for Change: Combatting Plastic Pollution on International Tea Day

On this International Tea Day, celebrated on May 21, find out more about how microplastics contained in tea bags might be harming your body. 

Environment Canada on Twitter posted about microplastic content in tea bags. They also suggested trying loose-leaf tea with reusable strainers instead. 

Apart from harming your body, these microplastics also contribute to plastic pollution. Contemplate making the switch today to #BeatPlasticPollution!

1. What Are Microplastics?

Microplastics are a form of tiny plastic particles that measure less than 5mm (0.2 inches) in length. They are found almost everywhere (air, water, soil, etc.) in the environment these days as a result of severe plastic pollution

Microplastics are of two types:

1.1. Primary Microplastics

Primary Microplastics constitute tiny particles produced for commercial uses in cosmetics, textiles, clothing, etc. 

In fact, these microplastics get introduced to the environment directly through these commercial sources after they are discarded.

1.2. Secondary Microplastics

Secondary Microplastics are created during the breakdown of larger plastic articles (such as those in water bottles, for example). 

The breakdown of larger plastic items is because of exposure to environmental factors such as wind abrasion or radiation from the sun’s rays.  

2. How Are Microplastics Harmful to Our Health?

Microplastics are found almost everywhere, in the food we eat, in the water we drink, and even in the air, present as micropollutants, and studies have found that microplastics can lead to adverse effects on human health.

They can cause cytotoxicity (which leads to damage and death of cells), hypersensitivity, unwanted immune responses, and acute responses like hemolysis (rupture of red blood cells).

3. What Are Some Alternatives for Tea Bags?

However, a study conducted right here in Canada suggests that a single tea bag at brewing temperature can produce up to 11.6 billion microplastics in just one cup!

It indeed seems to be time to bid tea bags goodbye, so here are some alternatives to consider if you are looking for a replacement for your daily tea bags: 

  • Basket Infusers
  • Tea Balls
  • Stick Infusers
  • Teapot with strainer or filter
  • Reusable tea bags 

4. What Is International Tea Day?

The United Nations has designated May 21 of every year as International Tea Day and according to the United Nation’s official site:

The Day will promote and foster collective actions to implement activities in favour of the sustainable production and consumption of tea and raise awareness of its importance in fighting hunger and poverty.”

Tea, as a beverage, has been around for over 5000 years, dating back to ancient China. Drinking tea has its own health benefits, such as weight loss, and it is also laden with anti-inflammatory properties

Moreover, in many cultures like India and Japan, tea is a staple beverage and is even preferred over coffee. 

In summary, tea bags which are a very small part of our everyday life, might be contributing to detrimental health problems and global plastic pollution in the big picture.

Of course, switching to a healthy alternative from tea bags will not stop all the microplastic exposure we receive every day. Nonetheless, it is one step in the right direction.  With the right use of tea, we can use it in an eco-friendly manner.


  • Vaidehi Prajapati

    Vaidehi has a penchant for reading travelogue books and exploring new cities. About to complete her Bachelor's in French, she has a passion for meeting and understanding people of different cultures. Her writings are mainly based on the news and history of Canada, want to stay tuned in with the current scenario do give her articles a read!

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