Derek – Friday 18th September 2020

Tea being vegetable matter, it seems obvious to put used tea bags on the compost heap. Unfortunately, nearly all tea bags have plastic film in them to hold the bag together in hot water. If you just bin the bags instead, they go into landfill. The tea inside will rot, and, with the shortage of oxygen, give off methane which is 80 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

WRAP (*Waste and Resources Action Programme) says compost them, even with the plastic. But this doesn’t strike me as satisfactory as, over a year, you’ll end up with thousands of bits of plastic film to sieve out of your compost. Quite a hassle. And you’ll be adding microplastic to your soil. *

There is currently only one common brand of tea bags that does not contain plastic, PG Tips. PG Tips are also getting rid of the plastic film which covers their large box. They are not Fair Trade but certify their tea with the Rainforest Alliance scheme. They are owned by Unilever, and while the ethical policies of the parent company are improving, with multi-nationals ethics are a marketing decision rather than conviction. A green decision can be withdrawn as the market ebbs and flows.

The only other non-plastic contender I know of is Clipper tea. No plastic in the bags, none on the box, and they are Fair Trade. The downside is that they are pricey. The only way to make the price comparable with PG Tips is to buy the 1100 bag pack at around £23. Worth considering, as you’ll get through the tea in the end.

Plants are dependent on light for photosynthesis and warmth. Noticeable this time of year, as we head into the season of limited daylight hours and dormancy. Tuesday 22 September is the Autumnal Equinox, the day, in the Earth’s traverse round the Sun, that splits equally into 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. In the northern hemisphere, the nights win out after Tuesday, squeezing the daylight hours until we get to the Winter Solstice on December 21st, after which the light fights back.

The cause is the Earth’s tilt to the Sun, 23.4 degrees, giving us the seasons too. If, in a film plot I might offer Disney, the Empire struck and removed the tilt, then everywhere on Earth would have equal day and night permanently and just one season. That would not be a good season for most places on Earth as far as human life is concerned. Ice would crush down from both poles, and the tropics would be fiercely hot and barely habitable.

Such what-if tales make us realise how precarious life is on the planet. Without the tilt, it’s unlikely we’d be around. The most accepted theory for its origin is that around 4.5 billion years ago, a planet, roughly the size of Mars, struck the Earth, creating the tilt and the moon too. Without this accident, I wouldn’t be writing this blog or suggesting plots to Disney.

Most of our flowers have finished their season with the shortening daylight hours. There’s Japanese anemones in several places, bucking the trend, Michaelmas daisies too, along with goldenrod, marigolds can’t be stopped, and California poppies are here and there. But just patches, little to shout about.

Spiders are spinning their webs, mostly the garden crucifix spider, which has a striped body and a cross on its abdomen. I am fascinated how they get webs started across wide spans. They must mate in the next month or so, in order for the female to lay her egg sac before she is killed by the frost. The sac will hatch in the warmer, lighter days of spring. All so chancy.

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