Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Afterlife of a Teabag

Tea comes in little bags that we use once and throw away. But why?

These bags are good for only one use in making tea. If you "double-dip" you might possibly get a second cup but that's pretty much it. Still, you're left with a little porous paper bag of leaves. Whether you are a person who is innately frugal, or you are challenging yourself to come up with greener practices, the question is the same: What else can we do with this thing?

Our patio has a bird poop issue. The chicadees are delightfully entertaining but they frequently leave a mark. I could clean the mark off with a rag and then launder the rag, but there's something icky about that. I may not be being reasonable here, but that's my prerogative.

Instead, when I'm done with my teabag, I give any birdspots a scrub. This is just abrasive enough to lift the spot, but not so abrasive as to mar the paint. When I'm done, I tear the soiled bag in half and bury it in the dirt. The tea leaves and bird spot swiftly turn into soil and the bit of paper is not far behind. The end result is that the tea bag has had 2 or 3 lifetime achievements instead of only one; surely this is more satisfying for the teabag just as it would be for all of us!

You can think of other uses for a tea-bag scrubby. They're small, handy and come in a variety of flavors! If you're going to have them anyway, why not put them to use? (I'm not talking about turning your pad into a Boo Radley house loaded with old junk, but simply practicing the philosophy of re-using what you have anyway for something you need to do anyway: "Use it up, wear it out - make it do or do without!")

Certainly, this a small thing, and no substitute for the large changes we must make to keep our world clean and green. However, other people are working on the Big Things; few of us can come up with Gigantic Ideas on our own, but thanks to the internet, we now can share enough ideas, both Tiny and Gigantic, for them to add up to something significant.

Each of the cells of our body are small things but aren't we grateful at the result?

UPDATE: I am reminded that you can also make waste-free, one-time-use scrubbies from the residue when you have corn-on-the cob.

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