On a recent trip to Trader Joe’s to stock up on nuts, dried fruit, and frozen foods, I was very happy to come across organic teas at a low price. Cha-ching! I bought a few boxes of chamomile and ginger-pear. When I got home and opened the first box I was disappointed to find that each tea bag was individually wrapped in clear plastic. I went from feeling good about the prospect of drinking tea whose leaves had not been sprayed with pesticide, to feeling guilty that each time I made a cup of tea, I was dumping plastic into a landfill. Maybe one tea bag wrapper doesn’t seem so bad, or even the 20 wrappers that come in each box. But picture every plastic wrapper from every tea bag from every box of TJ’s organic tea sold around the country, all piled up together. I’m guessing that would be an enormous amount of plastic. Why couldn’t Joe wrap his tea in a more eco friendly package? Especially given the likelihood that people who are interested in organic tea are also concerned with the environment.
I figured it couldn’t hurt to write to the company to see what they had to say. I remember my resourceful grandmom often did this, and with online feedback forms now it’s easier than ever. I was thrilled to hear back from Trader Joe’s customer support a few weeks later noting that they are looking into the issue with their supplier. We’ll see if the next box of TJ’s tea that I buy will be any different. If not, I’ll have to find a new favorite. But I hope my little story helps to show that you shouldn’t feel silly or shy about asking your retailers about packaging or sourcing. It is your prerogative as a customer. And the more they hear about it, the more likely they are to change their products for the better!