Beverage Buyer Beware: Trader Joe’s

I love seasonal beverages! They’re my favorite treat! I love to try the holiday flavors that come out at this time of year. Unfortunately I’ve discovered that Trader Joe’s, my husband’s favorite place to treat me, is not earth friendly with their seasonal beverage selections. I dislike calling out a specific company, but there were too many dangs to ignore. Here’s our journey over several months.

The first to disappoint was the Three Fine Organic Teas. At thirst glance, this is a paper box with three metal tins inside. Once home we realized there are magnets to hold the box closed which would need removed if we were to recycle it in the blue single stream carts. We re-purposed it since it’s so sturdy and secure.

Once you open the tins, each tin contained a silver plastic bag full of plastic pyramid tea bags. I ended up cutting the tea bags open and steeping the loose tea in my tea infuser. I don’t drink hot beverages that have been exposed to plastic. The silver outer bag and plastic pyramid tea bags go in the trash.

Next we tried the Pumpkin Spice Rooibos. We were optimistic with the tin, but we neglected to see the word “tea sachets” under the tea pot.

Tea sachets tend to be the plastic pyramid bags. I ended up cutting these open too and steeping the loose leaf tea in my tea infuser and throwing the tea sachet itself in the trash.

Then I got sick and was super excited to try the Organic Ginger Tumeric Herbal Tea. Gads, more plastic! The envelopes are 100% plastic instead of the paper with a bit of plastic. The typical paper-ish outer sleeve for tea bags can be recycled (the level of plastic in tea covers is acceptable in single stream recycling). These plastic tea bag covers go to a store’s plastic bag recycling station unless they’re too stained or contaminated then trash them.

Then the hubby bought the Salted Caramel Hot Coca. Poor thing didn’t know it’s not cardboard and not metal, but a composite/combination that goes in the trash. The body is plastic coated paper and the top and bottom are metal; it’s very difficult to separate these types of canisters. The lid and scoop can be recycled.

Optimistically, my husband also bought the Peppermint Hot Chocolate because it was in a tin. Alas, it comes in a silver plastic bag that must go in the trash. Nice tin though, we’re reusing it.

So buyer beware. Check the outside, read the container for inside packaging information, and if it opens a bit without damaging the food safety and integrity of the item, check if you can.

Don’t forget to write the companies you purchase from, or have considered purchasing from. They won’t know you don’t like their packaging if you don’t let them know. Too many oops, and they’ll think it’s customer preference and okay to proceed as-is. Loose tea can be kept fresh in various ways. Cocoa can be kept fresh in tins with tin lids, they just need to choose a different design. Sustainable and fresh packaging exists, we just need to make sure to ask for it.

Happy Holidays and sustainable shopping!

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