Creation is a miracle – a perfectly ordered conglomeration of atoms designed with intent! Even if you regard it as random, it’s a pretty awesome coincidence, don’t you think? And you get to be part of it, for a split second in the eons of time.
At the foot of the New Year I am grateful for my little spot in this cosmic dance. The greatest work of art and I get to be a contributing dot. How can I hold and grow this awareness daily for 2015? How can I dress another year, another day in the face of the sun in a cloak of honour, as a co-worker in the dance of miracles?
Miracle consciousness sprouts from feeling grateful. At first light, the sun salute. Then the tea. I love Earl Grey – we call it Early Grey. Here on holiday I could not find loose Earl Grey at the health shop, so now I sit with tea bags. Something I have avoided for some years. Ten times the carbon footprint of loose tea, did you know? Due to the extra growing, manufacturing and transport of the paper or silk, the tag, the string, the glue between the two layers of paper or silk.
Tea bags contain glue and tea sweepings
Also you now consume unhealthy glue, and very low grade tea – basically the ‘sweepings off the floor’ I was told by a tea connoisseur. Whereas loose tea is A grade tea, or whole leaves. Naturally the taste cannot even be compared. Plus, to boot, we pay more …
Mostly one cup is made with this teabag. Then it’s usually tossed; hopefully into a compost bucket. But wait, that bag is no good for the compost either, due to the glue. It is toxic to your garden. Oh dear, now what?
Well, firstly it should be re-used. So I have gathered a few days’ tea bags in a cup. Next few cups will now we made with that collection of used bags. Taste wise not excellent, but the best I can do for the earth in this regard today. If sipped with gratitude for all the resources invested into my warm cup of comfort, it is certainly good enough.
35 litres of water sacrificed for every cup of tea
Then there is the water used to grow and manufacture that cup of tea – 35 litres of water for every one cup of tea! Why not simply drink more water, especially during the summer? It is anyway a battle to drink enough water, whilst coffee and tea don’t count in terms of the hydration your body needs. Remember that caffeine is a diuretic, so you need to drink more water to replace the water drawn from your system. Not to talk about the way it draws calcium from your bones.
My late mum was a real teapot – she lived from cup to cup, all made with tea bags – but sadly also battled very severe and painful osteoporosis for more than ten years. Of course this was not the only cause, but one of a mixture of genetic and lifestyle factors.
In our over-consuming sphere of society, the journey is about saying NO. Every day a green tweak to honour the miracle. Today’s NO is to tea bags. Slight tweak – 10 times reduction in tea footprint. Is that not worth it?
Can’t find loose tea? Ask, insist on loose tea. Educate your grocer … send them the link to this story.
Less makes it more precious and pleasurable
Less is more in all regards. In writing, this is our motto. Each time you lose a word, you gain a few writers, someone said. So too with food. The less you eat, the better it tastes. Every mouthful a treasure as it’s wrapped in gratitude. We slow down and focus on the experience; we are deeply nurtured.
So too I found with Christmas gifts. A whole pile of small things are so quickly discarded, and often not used or treasured. But if you do the one gift celebration, it is special. You select with care, unwrap with anticipation. Enjoy for a long time … or swap with someone else for something more appropriate. It becomes a game, rather than a scramble for stuff.
What is the carbon footprint of a cup of tea or coffee?
- 21g CO2e: black tea or coffee, boiling only the water you need
- 53g CO2e: white tea or coffee, boiling only the water you need
- 71g CO2e: white tea or coffee, boiling double the water you need
I was shocked to find out what a large chunk of our carbon footprints hot drinks make up! It is certainly worth our while to boil the kettle once and keep boiling water in a flask for any future cups. This way you can slice your cup’s footprint significantly. During the summer ice tea is a great alternative anyway. Most mindless activities are simply bad habits.
“If you drink four mugs of black tea per day, boiling only as much water as you need, that works out as just 30kg of CO2e each year – the same as a 40-mile drive in an average car. Three large lattes per day, by contrast, and you’re looking at almost twenty times as much carbon, equivalent to flying half way across Europe.”
Read more about the carbon footprint of tea and coffee here.
Why gas is better than electric stoves
So milk is a big culprit, due to all the belching that the cows do, hence release of methane gas. Yay say the vegans! So too is boiling more water than you need. Best is to boil an old fashioned kettle on a gas hob. What is the difference in footprint between gas and an electric stove? According to Melican, tea industry consultant:
“Gas is best as there is only one conversion loss from burning the fossil fuel to produce heat energy to raise the water temperature in the kettle.
With electricity, you get five separate losses:
- turning fossil fuel into steam,
- steam into electricity,
- grid losses along the wires (voltage drop),
- transformer losses as voltage is stepped up and down, and
- in heating the water in the kettle.”
So we brought back the old whistle kettle, with fond memories of family caravanning trips as a child. Yes, it takes much longer to boil – it slows us down. Gives you time to think about the real cost of the coming treat, create a super tea ritual with teapot, the works. Time to gather family and friends around the brewing pot, connect and drink a toast to life. The miracle of another day. Have a blessed 2015!
By Elma Pollard