When my husband and I decided to start this company, it was very important to us that our platform be both ethical and sustainable. Why? Because we are building a future for our family and want our success to be based in integrity. It’s also never been easier to pursue a sustainable platform-with concern for the environment becoming more and more important to consumers, sustainable products are now available at every level of the supply chain. So, if the supply is available, why not offer sustainable teas in sustainable packaging? To do so would be almost to say: "Sure I could help myself and others at a minimal cost, but nope, I will keep doing things that I know are harmful." The reasoning seems self-evident, but the insistence of most large companies to continue producing non-sustainable goods belies the need for explanation.
To be clear, we are not claiming perfection. Everyone has room to improve, and we are no exception. What we are claiming is to have the heart to persevere in finding a better way. We are constantly reevaulating our position in order to strive towards making a meaningful difference. Here we will answer some of the most common questions we are asked by customers regarding our environmental mission.
What does it mean to be sustainable?
According to the EPA, to be sustainable is "to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations."¹ To that end, being sustainable is not about being perfect nor having zero impact on the environment. It is about minimizing what impact one does have in order to achieve a balance that can continue for an extended period of time without a significant shift towards negative outcomes.
So if sustainability isn't about being perfect, can a product really be 100% sustainable?
Yes! Sustainability starts with mindfulness and ends with follow-through. Can we promise that our products will never ever end up in a landfill or contribute to emissions or have any other environmental ramifications? No, we cannot, because to live in modern society as it currently exists means not being able to control every outcome. What we can promise, however, is to always consider the impact that our products will have on the environment and make decisions that prioritize protecting the environment over profit.
For instance, this is why we use tea tins instead of recyclable paper pouches. Tins cost more, so it isn't a profitable decision. We do this because tins are infinitely recyclable whereas paper pouches can only be recycled a limited number of times before being discarded. Tin is one of the most consumer-recycled materials out there because people are conscious of the fact that metal is not a renewable resource. So, the tin is more likely to make it into the recycling bin in the first place. Finally, tins are the most effective at blocking out light and air. This means tea stays fresher, longer. Fresher tea means less waste over time. Tins still take energy to produce meaning they will lead to some amount of environmental impact. But we have tried to anticipate the way consumers will interact with our products to reduce the impact as much as possible. This is the same reason we use recycled packaging paper, compostable product labels, and recycled boxes. Each decision has been carefully weighed to ensure minimized impact.
Sustainable packaging is great, but what about the tea itself?
Not to worry, our tea is as environmentally friendly as the packaging it comes in! We are thrilled to have relationships with several suppliers, each of which takes sustainability as seriously as we do. We have personally built our collections around these suppliers because of our shared mission. All of our teas are sourced from members of the Ethical Tea Partnership, a not-for-profit alliance that invests in the economic, social, and environmental well-being of the communities in which they are grown. Each tea is blended in facilities powered exclusively with solar energy which significantly reduces carbon emissions. We buy in large quantities to reduce the amount of packaging used in the acquisition of our products. We specifically seek out small-batch blends, as small batches are more flavorful and are therefore less susceptible to waste. In addition to offsetting our carbon footprint as much as possible in producing our teas, we also offer our customers the option of purchasing carbon offset credits at checkout to reduce the impact of shipping their orders. While we do not currently carry any certified organic teas, many of our teas are organic compliant, and ALL of our teas are tested before arrival at our facility to ensure they do not contain harmful chemicals.
Our commitment to a sustainable mission
There are so many factors that go into making sustainable choices. What will the carbon footprint be? Will harmful chemicals be released into our surroundings? Will non-renewable resources be compromised? Will physical waste harm wildlife, such as plastic in our oceans? Will the product go to waste? Our mission is to consider these things so that you do not have to. You can rest assured when you enjoy a Steep & Spice tea that considerable thought has gone into how your consumption will affect the environment. Our commitment is to put the environment first and profit second, to educate our community at every opportunity, and to always be willing to reevaluate our position for the best outcome possible.
“Environmental sustainability is our cup of tea”
¹“Learn About Sustainability.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, December 2, 2021. https://www.epa.gov/sustainability/learn-about-sustainability.