Bigelow’s Classic Green Tea is certainly a product I would recommend as the company clearly has meaningful commitments to sustainability and corporate responsibility. From organically grown tea to recyclable packaging to charitable contributions, it is clear why the company has been certified as a B Corporation. Though Bigelow lacks in some production and distribution transparency, the company is ultimately sets a good example for companies looking to commit themselves to environmental and social sustainability.
This product only has one ingredient: green tea. Green tea itself comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is not significantly taxing on the environment to cultivate. Most harmful environmental impacts associated with green tea stem from deforestation and the associated issues, but this will be discussed in the “How it’s made” section. Other than the tea, the only other thing to consider in the product’s composition is the packaging. Bigelow’s tea comes in paper boxes containing filter bags with strings and paper tags individually wrapped in foil. Bigelow reports that their tea boxes and shipping cartons are recyclable and that their strings, tags, and filter bags are compostable, leaving only the foil wraps for the landfill. Bigelow’s packaging suppliers also only use water based inks, meaning that they only generate 2% volatile organic compounds (for comparison, solvent-based inks can generate up to 70% VOCs). The fact that this tea’s packaging in largely recyclable and compostable is good, but it leaves the consumer with the burden of diverting the waste from the landfill. Furthermore, Bigelow does not say whether the packaging is made from virgin materials or recycled, but given the company’s stance on sustainability, it is safe to assume that they would publicize any recycled packaging. Therefore, the packaging likely is produced from virgin materials. Overall, this product is made of materials that are largely free from negative environmental impact, and though the company is taking steps in the right direction by using recyclable packaging, they would do well to use recycled packaging materials and avoid needless use of virgin materials.
Bigelow’s tea is cultivated in gardens in Sri Lanka, India, and China from suppliers that they claim have followed sustainable farming practices for decades. Their suppliers use practices such as CIC (controlled, integrated cultivation) which stresses independence from chemical pesticides and waste reduction by composting herbal tea dust to be used as fertilizer. Furthermore, Bigelow’s Classic Green Tea is non-GMO, organic, and Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) certified. The ETP works worldwide with tea growers to establish responsible conservation of tea field’s and improve worker well-being. As for the packaging, Bigelow’s supplier has followed LEED certification guidelines implemented various technologies such as geothermal heating and insulation and ventilation measures designed to retain heat. Bigelow’s facilities reuse the water used in their production processes ensuring that no waste water is discharged into the ground and 95% of manufacturing waste is diverted from landfills. Furthermore, 100% of Bigelow’s electric consumption comes from renewable sources, namely the 870 solar panels the have installed at their facility in Fairfield, Connecticut. As most of the tea is farmed in Southeast Asia, there are likely large amounts of carbon emissions associated with raw material transportation, but all of Bigelow’s products are manufactured in the United State’s where they are sold, so some ground is made up in that regard. Ultimately, Bigelow takes care to incorporate sustainability meaningfully into their production processes, but they lack transparency in reporting statistics such as GHG emissions and water usage.
Bigelow is a certified B Corporation, meaning that it meets rigorous standards for corporate ethics. The company commits itself to ethical business practices, works to support the communities in which it operates, and contributes portions of its earnings to various charitable causes. The company raised $2 million with its Bigelow Tea Community Challenge which was used to support 23 charities. Bigelow also donated over 7 million bags of tea to active and veteran US soldiers around the world.
Classic Green Tea:
Ethical Tea Partnership:
“Support Our Troops”: