Sustainability, Ethics and Organic Farming

Here at GrunTea Emporium we like a bit of humour – but not when it comes to the environment.

We understand we have but one Earth. It has both limited resources and can only tolerate so much abuse – which is why we do our very best to make our eco-footprint as light as possible! Let us look at our flagship product, Turmeric Chai.

Two of the greatest problems facing the environment today is deforestation and plastic – and we just Could Not contribute to them.

So we spent months researching options, to find the most eco-friendly way to package our teas.
Many are aware that the volatile oils in spices begin to lose their potency from the moment they are ground up. So the first choice for our packaging would be something non-permeable like glass jars, tins or foil bags. These are either very costly to produce or end up in landfill for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. So this was not a solution – even though the foil bags would be easy, and are commonly used within the tea industry.

Heavyweight plastic bags also solve the permeability problem, but again, if they end up in landfill – will not biodegrade for a very long time. And while plant-based plastics are made from plants and not oil – the vast majority need to be biodegraded in purpose-built facilities. And we cannot guarantee every council has such facilities – most do not!

So what were we to do?

The only thing that seemed logical and sustainable… Use permeable packaging, and reduce the product size so they do not sit on the shelf too long, whilst producing only small batches of tea as needed – to keep it fresh and potent.

What was our packaging solution?

All the research we did showed us that we can buy bags made from 100% plant-based cellophane – which is “home compostable”. This means you can toss it in your home compost and it will totally break down over several weeks. It will do the same in landfill, or even (heaven forbid) if it should end up in the waterways or ocean.

Natureflex Cellophane is a wonderful product made by a company dedicated to protecting the environment. So deep is their commitment that all of their products are Independently Tested and Certified to do exactly as they state. Quality we could trust.

Cellophane bags however are not thick strong plastic, so we needed to consider outer packaging – this meant a cardboard box. Fortunately this industry is well established with environmentally conscious options. So our boxes are made from 100% recycled cardboard and printed in plant-based inks. And these too are Home Compostable!

This permeable, small sized, sustainably produced and home compostable packaging solved our problem – or should I say – met our ethical standards.
And it is our hope, through our demonstrated choice, that we can inspire other tea companies to take on the same environmental ethics and change to sustainable packaging – rather than destroying the planet for a cuppa.

But what about the tea itself?

All of our ingredients are Australian Certified 100% Organic!

Why is Organic important?

The answer is really simple:

  • Chemical based farming is damaging our ecosystem so badly that it threatens our very existence. If the pollinating insects all die, so too does our food chain – this is Not Sustainable, not for us, not for the planet!
  • By supporting organic farmers, we are supporting a positive change for our future and the future of the earth.

Our commitment is to Buy Local where ever we can.

Sadly, despite all our research, neither our supply company nor us, have yet found any Australian Organic Farmers who can supply our ingredients, at least not in the form we need them. Though we ever keep an eye out.
We can, and do however, support an Australian Owned import company, and due to all of our ingredients being Australian Certified, we are also supporting with our business, the Australian Certification Company – as well as all the amazing Organic Farms around the globe who are doing the right thing.

This change to organic farming needs to be global if it is our globe we wish to save!
Following from this, it is our preference to support any farmers around the globe who are farming organically, rather than local farmers who are poisoning the earth. It is our intention to support any local farmers who do change to organic farming practice – to buy local organic ingredients would be a dream come true for us! And of course let me not forget to mention our business intention of buying land on the beautiful temperate Tablelands above Cairns, where we can set up our own Commercial Kitchen, and in time grow some of our own organic ingredients – you can’t get more local than that.

And if all I have said about the importance of Organic Farming is not enough, let me toss this interchange to you:
“I’d like a cup of Nettle GrunTea please.”
“Great. Would you like some pesticides with that?”
We could not sell a healthful tonic if it were laden with chemicals! GrunTea could not then be your Wingman for Wellness!

Are there any other ways we strive to sustainability?

Well actually, yes, there are. We wish to sustain people too. We are a just a startup at the moment, but as business grows, we are hoping to avoid going to a factory to have our tea produced. It is our intention, as long as it is financially feasible, to keep our tea “handmade with love”!
We are aware of our ageing population, and that there are many very capable older people who are deemed unemployable by some – we will be seeking to give them employment with us. Therefore creating a sense of belonging and purpose again for them, and bringing to us, the wisdom of age. A win-win and a way to sustain people.

Here’s to sustaining our health, and the health of our planet.
Cheers n Ethics
Jocah

PS: For the sake of complete transparency and honesty, I need to include this addition.
GrunTea 100g Nettle BagAt present, during our soft launch, while we establish if there is a market for our products, we are using heavyweight plastic bags for our teas. We do this with heavy heart – even for this short time. In order to purchase our boxes, we need to print 5000 of them. If we then discovered no one wanted to buy our delicious teas, we would then be wasting all of those boxes. And so we made the decision to buy and use 200 bags while we test the market, rather than risk the wastage.

It was a difficult decision, but one we felt was right to make.

To help compensate for this choice, we went to the additional effort designing and printing stickers promoting Redcycle – who recycle all soft plastics – including our bags! They then sell their recycled plastics to a company that makes outdoor furniture, council furniture and children’s playgrounds. Which we think is spiffy.
As Redcycle picks up from a great number of Coles Supermarkets in Australia, we thought this was quite convenient. Of course it is not completely ideal, as it relies on our customers sharing our environmental ethics and making the effort to drop the bags off – but we believe it is a good compromise for our soft launch.

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