Zero Waste Tea: Journey and How to

My First Zero Waste Tea Shopping: David’s Tea and Bulk Barn

I love tea. I drink several (minimum five) cups a day. I have always drank loose leaf tea but it’s only recently that I have completely switched to loose leaf. The only time I don’t drink loose leaf is when I’m at my grandpas house and he makes us a pot of tea after dinner. I find that I don’t really like black teas in loose leaf. Maybe I’m just not used to anything but Tetley’s orange pekoe, but I just can’t do orange pekoe, earl grey or really any black tea in loose leaf. I will do the odd chai tea though.

My favourite tea is green tea. This I will happily drink in loose leaf or matcha form. I also like herbal teas. Lucky for me these are easy to get in zero waste form.

Even if loose leaf tea comes in a non-zero waste container it is still producing much less waste than individual tea bags. Some people say you can compost tea bags and others say no, but if you don’t have a compost (I’ll be getting one this summer) than it’s best to skip the bag anyways.  I’ve talked about this a bit before in my kitchen swaps article, but I wanted to touch on it more now.

I’ve recently bought zero waste loose leaf tea from the Bulk Barn and David’s Tea. Bulk Barn is only in Canada, but similar bulk stores exist in most places. David’s Tea is available widely in Canada and some locations in the United States. To see more about Bulk Barn check out my last post.

The tea I choose from Bulk Barn is fair trade Chinese green tea. I bought .25 pounds of tea (or so the jar says, I don’t remember what the scale said). I am sad because their tea selection has shrunk over the years. They had many green teas, some black teas, and a few herbal teas. The green was the only one I was interested in. I sadly had to choose between a fair trade tea and an organic tea. They didn’t have any green teas that were both. I like the tea I choose. It was around $10 and will last me quite a long time. I use less than one tablespoon (maybe even less than half) for each cup of tea so such a large jar will last a long time and save me money compared to tea bags and cafes.

David’s Tea is one of my favourite places to buy tea (for any Americans reading this it’s similar to  Teavana which has many more US locations than David’s tea). They have a wide variety of tea. You can buy it in packaging or you can buy it in metal tins (with labels and sometimes plastic lids), but you are always allowed to bring them in (no matter how small) and have them refilled. I used two containers from a chia tea kit I got as a birthday gift years ago for my tea today. I love that they have lots of organic teas. They also organize everything by colour (all the herbal teas are in a yellow container). So it’s very easy to find a tea you like in store.

When you look online they have a filter for  kosher, organic and fair trade so you can see all the teas that fit which ever category(ies) you choose. I haven’t ordered tea online so I don’t know if you can get zero-waste friendly packaging. I use the online to decide what kind of tea I want because it takes me forever for me to make decisions.

I really love the filter. It lets you pick the tea that fits your taste and values.

Once I’ve decided what I want I bring my containers with me to the store. They have a membership card so you can earn free drinks. They make tea for you (with no bag) and you can bring your own mug. I ended up getting organic chamomile, and organic serenity now. I find that both (especially chamomile) are strong so I don’t use too much for a cup. I bought $5 of each tea and it should last me ages. I only drink these kinds of tea in the evening, and not every evening.

I think the quality of tea I buy has improved since going (mostly) zero waste. I take more time to decide on what tea I want, and why, than I used to. This ends up in more ethical and environmental choices.

Let me know where you get your loose leaf from, and what your favourite tea is below.



My First Zero Waste Bulk Barn Haul

I was nervous about bringing my own jars because Bulk Barn has just allowed stores across the country to accept them. Luckily the wonderful staff eased that right away. It was not only my first time bringing jars but the first time anybody has brought jars to that store! The staff were so excited to try it out and make sure it works. They had to watch training videos on how to tare the weight and inspect the jars, and they were really excited to finally put their training into action. I wasn’t expecting that at all. So if you’re nervous like I was just do it. It will be fine, and your cute jars might even get a compliment or two.

img_3475I didn’t bring many jars because it was my first time, but I will bring much more next time. They only accept glass jars so if you don’t drive, or live really close, this could get a bit heavy for you. First you go to the cash and they inspect your jars for rust, water, or any food residue. If it passes they will weigh it and put a sticker on with the tare weight. Then you just fill them up on your own, and bring them to the cash like usual.

My cashier was so excited she almost forgot to give me my change. Make sure you remember, write down, or photograph the name and number of the product. They are usually very good at recognizing everything but a lot of things look the same. I had to tell them which green tea I chose, and because I had a photo on my phone I was prepared.

img_3474I ended up getting some mixed nuts (on sale!), honey roasted peanuts, fair trade green tea, organic pea penne, and organic green lentil and kale penne. I was worried bringing lots of jars (especially small ones) would bother the staff but it caused no problems. I like small jars so I can test things. They often have new kinds of grain free noodles and I like to buy enough for one or two bowls of pasta to test them out.

Overall it was a great experience and I’m so happy Bulk Barn has listened to their customers and allowed zero waste jars.

I insta storied the whole shopping experience, so if you’re into that kinda thing please follow me @amanda_edgley

To see my past article on Bulk Barn go here.

Natural and Organic Labeling

organicFinding food, make-up or clothing that is organic and all natural can be tricky. Some brands use words like natural to trick people into buying their products. Dirt is natural, oil is natural, but you don’t want these on your face, or in your stomach. So how do you figure out what you should be buying?

First learning how to read labels is a good start. There is no regulation of the use “natural” or “100% natural”. Some companies take it seriously and others use it as a marketing technique. If a product says it’s natural than it’s best to do some research on the brand before you buy.

When looking at certified organic products from the USDA or Canadian Organic there are different rules depending on the percentage of organic ingredients.  If a product says it is “made with organic ingredients” than it must have at least 70% organic ingredients. Any product between 70-95% must say what percent of their product is organic in order to use the certification labels. If a product has less than 70% it is not allowed to be certified organic, but is able to list which ingredients are organic on the label.

If a product has 95% organic ingredients than it is able to be labelled as “organic” without listing the percentage of organic ingredients. If you really care about the 5% than you must look for certified products that have “100% organic” written on the label.

Next you need to do some research. Different brands will give you more or less information (I plan on braking down some specific brands in the future). The best way to find organic products easily is looking for the certification stickers. Even with the stickers you can’t be certain. Every form of certification has corruption and loopholes so doing additional research is needed.

Without the sticker products can still claim to be organic when they aren’t, so make sure you know what to look for. Some of these you can trust. At my local farmers market there is a vegetable booth with a sign that says “uncertified organic”. They don’t certify because it’s too expensive for them, but they are very honest about how they grow their veggies.



Zero Waste Plastic Wrap


Plastic wrap is so annoying. Not only is it non recyclable plastic, but I find half the time it doesn’t stick to anything anyways. So I’ve found a zero waste solution: beeswax cloth wraps. You can buy these online, but they’re really easy to make yourself.

The only things you need are:

  • A double boiler (a pot with a metal/glass bowl on top)
  • Cloth (cut into squares)
  • Beeswax

I used old cloths I’ve been holding on to forever. Beeswax is easy for me to get (I’m a beekeeper) but you can buy it online, craft stores, or from honey booths at farmers markets.

First you need to set up your double boiler. All you need is water in the bottom and beeswax in the top. Bring the water to a simmer with the bowl of wax on top. Wait until the wax is melted. You don’t need to check the temperature as long as all the wax is liquid you’re good to go.


Second you’ll want to dip your cloth into the was. Dunk the whole thing in and stir it around. When it’s all covered use tongs/your hands (careful it’s very very hot) to pull it out. Grab two corners and spread it out dripping over the pot. The faster you pull it out of the wax and get it spread out and dripping the better.

Third,  if there are lots of places where the wax is thick redo it. If there are only a few spots carefully scrape them off.


Lastly, just let them dry a little bit. You can hold them until they’re no longer dripping than carefully set them on your counter. They dry very fast, but you want to let them sit before you actually use them.


They’ll feel really stiff, but the more you use them the more malleable they become. You can use them for sandwich wraps, to hold anything you would normally use parchment paper for (like homemade cough drops), and you can use them as bowl covers.

If you try making these let me know

Coffee Cups Ruin Everything

I have been trying to avoid disposable coffee cups for some time now, but I have decided this year that I am not getting a coffee without a reusable cup, no matter how desperate I am for caffeine. I try as hard as I can to produce no waste when getting a coffee. I have a reusable cup in the trunk of my car at all times, and if I go somewhere and someone else is driving I bring my cup in my purse.

Despite my best efforts I still had a zero waste fail. My friend and I were having the perfect day. We went to a health food store that actually had zero waste options, I bought direct trade organic coffee, we thrifted some records, and we were ending the day by stopping at an organic coffee shop. The café seemed perfect. I love coffee and am devoted to organic coffee (I’ll make a post on coffee later).

We got to the coffee shop an hour before it was supposed to close, I brought my own reusable cup in my purse but we decided to have our coffee “for here”. I thought I had nothing to worry about since we weren’t getting our coffee to go. But sadly I was wrong. Even though I tried my best I still failed at being zero waste.

I was very annoyed. I tried to comfort myself with the fact that the cup was at least made out of recycled material, but I still felt bad. I was hoping to make it the whole year without using a disposable coffee cup and here we are in January and I’ve already failed.

I decided not to let it get me down. I tried my best. I meant to be zero waste. I didn’t actively try and use a plastic cup but it happened. The best thing I can do now is learn to ask about cups if I’m new to a café. If every zero waster gave up after each fail there wouldn’t be any of us.

My Journey

I want to add a more personal side to these posts, so in addition to my usual reviews, routines/swaps, and DYIs I’m going to add posts within the my journey tag that are specifically blogs about my own journey towards a more sustainable and zero waste life. You’ll already know from my about page that I’ve had an interest in going zero waste or being better for the environment my whole life and I’m trying to really focus on it now.

This tag and page will focus on the ups and downs of my journey (as cliché as that sounds). I plan on talking about my personal experiences doing zero waste and sustainable things, as well as any fails along the way. I hope you guys like these new posts.


Bulk Barn Canada Goes Zero Waste

This is probably one of the most exciting things to happen in my zero waste journey. I have been struggling without having a bulk store to go to, and as of February 24, 2017 Bulk Barn’s across Canada will be allowing customers to bring their own containers. This is a great day for zero wasters and environmentally conscious people across the country. In Canada zero waste options are rather limited, primarily being in Vancouver (probably the “greenest” part of Canada shopping wise).

When Bulk Barn agreed to have a test store in October for zero waste, I still had my doubts. Bulk Barn has been well known in the Canadian zero waste scene for being very much against bringing your own containers. When the pilot store was announced I was hopeful but assumed it would take much longer for a zero waste Bulk Barn to arrive near me.

There are 260 Bulk Barn’s across the country so it will be far easier for Canadians to get there zero waste on. There are two stores in my town and I plan on being there bright and early Febuary 24th to show my support for this great change. This is also a great way to make zero waste more affordable; their website always has tons of coupons, and sales in store.

The best thing you can do to encourage change is vote with your dollars. The test stores did really well and because of that the company made national changes! This shows the power of voting with your dollar. If you want more zero waste, and/or ethical options you have to choose as many of them as you can. The more popular it becomes the more likely a business is to follow through.

To find a store near you go to:

They also have a useful guide on their website for what kind/condition of containers you can use and a list of what stores are already zero waste friendly.