How can I reuse or recycle tea bag wrappers?

tea-bag-wrappersWe’ve had an email from Di:

Several brands of tea I buy come in little waxy paper packets with a foil lining. Do you know if this can go straight into the recycling bin?

I think it’ll be a no regarding the recycling bin. Mixed materials – such as paper & plastic, plastic & metal, and paper & foil – tend to be a bit of a nightmare when it comes to recycling — and waxed paper can also be problematic to recycle as well (apparently it can be recycled alongside tetrapak but not regular paper).

It might be worth contacting the manufacturers to see if they have any suggestions or have any method of recycling their offcuts – if they do, they might be able to take back packaging and recycle it at the same time.

Any suggestions for reuses?

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21 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle tea bag wrappers?”

  1. If you’re into seed saving, you can use them to store small amounts of seeds. The waxy coating will prevent moisture from reaching the seeds, which will help them stay viable longer. You could write the seed name directly on the wrapper or stick a label on it.

  2. Calgary says:

    Tea Bag Folding for Scrapbooks or Greeting Cards
    Tea bag folding is a paper folding technique, with Dutch origins, using tea bags or small printed pieces of paper to form a geometric design. It is also known as kaleidoscope folding or miniature kaleidoscope origami.
    It is absorbing, cheap, and if you mess up there is still the recycling bin.

  3. I strongly recommend looking for a source of loose tea because there is less waste, the leaves are easily composted, you can make your own blends, you’re not limited to using a certain amount of tea, and — imho — it tastes much better without that bag taste.

    And it’s not hard to use. I have a strainer that fits into a cup that I use when making single servings — as well as a spoon a roommate left behind that holds tea. For larger servings, I use a tetsubin. And for making pitcherfuls of iced tea my husband just sits a metal mesh strainer across the top of the pot so the mesh is in the water. I actually find using tea bags to be messier since they tend to swing around when you take them out and the bags really love to retain liquid — until they’re dripping on the counter, of course. The leaves drip some, too, but not as bad in my experience.

  4. Tofu says:

    I second the loose leaf idea. Every year for Christmas we pick out a dozen or so types of tea from, and get an ounce of each (plus a bunch of free samples). An ounce is actually a LOT of tea… about equivalent to a normal sized box (20 count) of bagged tea.

    When you take into consideration that a cup of tea at a coffee shop runs about $2.00, and each bag weighs about .05 ounces… even the super expensive premium loose leaf tea is much cheaper!

  5. twinks says:

    Use the ones you’ve saved to collage onto a box in which you will put your future loose leaf tea. Very colourful and funky.

  6. Alice says:

    Just switch to a brand that comes in paper wrappers, letting the previous company know why you have switched. You’ll find an email contact on their website, usually.

    Many more of us need to do this to encourage manufacturers to make recyclable packaging, otherwise nothing will change.

  7. How about decoupaging them onto an old box or suitcase….

  8. Marija says:

    I love the idea that Calgary mentioned. Tea bags can be a great scrap material for fashioning paper flowers, cutouts, paper envelopes, etc.

  9. Olia says:

    Make bookmarks, store spices for the picnic.
    Make a bag or a hat for a doll.
    Store inside them some tiny photographs.
    Stick a candy inside, tie it up and fill Christmas stocking.
    Keep them in photo album together with photographs so generations after you would know what your favorite teas were.
    Start up seedlings in them.

  10. rissa says:

    glue them to a piece of card stock or regular paper and make them into envelopes add extra paper to make stationary.

  11. Jan says:

    Oh NO!!! NOT TO THE BIN!!!

    I collect this teabag´s wrappers!! I can use it for my collection or for the exchanges with the other collectors!! I have in my collection more than 11000 different wrappers! :-)
    More info – please contact me!!! (by the way – opening: You must cut only the back side of wrapper, the front side must be undamaged!! please!!!!)

    PLEASE! I would want all wrappers from teabags.

  12. Becca says:

    I know it’s been a while since you asked this question, but I just saw your post today and thought you’d get a kick out of this. My daughter made a complete dress out of the types of tea bags you displayed above… no material, all tea bag wrappers. Here is a picture of it if you’d like to see it. Thanks for recycling!

    I just realized I can’t attach a photo here. If you’d like to see the dress you can email me at and I’ll send it to you.

  13. Olia says:

    Since it is alreday a bag, create a bag or a clutch for a tiny doll.

  14. Olia says:

    Cut them square, stuff with cotton and use as decorative pillows in a doll’s house.

  15. Gulia says:

    Place several tea bags over each other, tie up one end tightly with a string, then spread them as flower petals.

  16. Gulia says:

    Roll them into beads, then string to create a nice smelling necklace.

  17. Gulia says:

    Tea begs that are foil on inside, if placed in a wallet, will keep your card bars safe, not readable to the crooks with their bar reading devices.

  18. Uluska says:

    They are wonderful for scrap-booking. Also, roll them up, tie with a string and add to your potpourri.

  19. Uluska says:

    Draw faces on them and play finger poppets.

  20. paulette says:

    I have several bags of the tea bag tags I’d call them – that u hold onto when dunking yr bag into yr cup/mug – string removed – if anyone knows of any charity that collects them or would like em would happily donate – have about 3 plastic shopping bags worth – we used to collect them and give to a charity who used them for something to do with wheelchair cushions but lost the contact.

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