‘Home-grown’ Softens Footprint, Boosts Empowerment

Industrial Cup Of Tea compared to the low ecological footprint Tea by Permaculture
Comparison of Industrial cup of tea and home-grown tea

Grab a D.I.Y. Cuppa

The True Cost of a Cup of Tea

Most tea and coffee in the western world is served in polystrene cups with enginerred no-spill lids. The high cost to the environment of the cup is well known. But, what are the costs for the contents?


Oil is the main fuel used to transport the products from nation to nation. It is also used in the manufacter of many of the high-end nylon tea-bags which do not decompose. The Polystrene is made from aliphatic hydrocarbons although the original invention in Berlin in 1930s used the resin of the American tree – Liquid Amber

To Tea or Not To Tea

Some tea is produced with fair-trade practices. If you like black tea, support fair trade, buy organic, buy loose leaf.  It is easy to grow your own Tea but tricky and time-consuming to process it yourself. There are many other types of teas you can grow yourself including mint which will even grow indoors. Some of the best teas for the east coast of Australia are: Bamboo (great source of silicone for hair and nail health), delicious, (useful and medicinal) stinging nettle, lemon and aniseed myrtle, rose, sage and banksia flowers and perennial Thai basil/mint.

Off to market

To minimise the commercial dominance of supermarkets, buy your tea loose leaf and in bulk from an ethical supplier like Doorstep Organics. In addition to this, you boost your buyer-power by supporting the friendly local co-op Flametree co-op.

A co-operative (co-op) is a different kind of business. A co-op is usually owned by individual members, not big investors, and the members get a chance to have a say in how they are run. Profits go to the members and to the local community. Find out more about co-ops around the world at the International Co-operative Alliance.


vast tracts of land are devoted to transport vehicles
14 lane highways use a lot of land-space

Machines gather the harvest, bundle it, send it to the manufacturer, make the tea bags, package it up, cart it about and bring it past the cashier. Then you need transport to get it home. Many people also dispose of their tea leaves, cups and lids using municipal road-side collection.
Packaging is machined for the tea, teabags, cups and lids, and transport boxes.
Tea bag factories also need resources like paper or nylon, staples, lighting, energy, manufacturing equipment, packaging and transport.
Energy is transmitted to all the factories, warehouses and supermarket.
Sadly the most common source of power for industry is fossil fuels, hydro, coal-fired or nuclear power. The labour components are being reduced. Robotic production means more energy is required.

There is an alternative. The good news is you can make your own tea, adopt a beverage that is easy to grow in your climate and use less fossil fuels.

The Permaculture Cup of Tea

We have abundant choices:

  • Grow your own traditional Tea Camellia sinensis, Coffee, and alternatives
  • Catch rainwater
  • Boil water with you own wood fueled stove or solar boiled jug
  • Recycle water waste and leaves
  • Get a hand-made cup. By supporting local artisans using local materials, you are building community networks and resilience, skills, knowledge and livelihoods.
  • Pre-loved mug reduces waste.  Your local artisan might use local clay and specialise in low-energy pottery techniques.
  • Restore and treasure family antiques.
  • Choose your energy source suited to your location: Solar, Wind, Home-grown fuel from your own or neighbouring woodlot
  • Select your vessel – if you don’t have your own solar panel to generate electricity try a solar kettle or an easy to use rocket stove
    Rocket stoves boil water with just a bundle of twigs. They can be made from tins.

    Join us in a workshop on home-grown Teas and Kombucha on Sept 17th