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Archives for the ‘Sustainability’ Category

Bigelow Tea Owned Charleston Tea Plantation, A Tea Journey Past and Present

Bigelow Tea has been an American classic since 1945 and while we all know and love the company’s tasty tea, Bigelow has another gem to celebrate, the Bigelow owned Charleston Tea Plantation which is America’s largest working tea garden located on the historic Wadmalaw Island. This South Carolina destination has ideal climate for growing the Camellia Sinesis (tea!) plant. Bigelow purchased the plantation in 2003 and has created a literal tea oasis; besides producing American Classic Tea, the plantation is also a beautiful setting for weddingseducational tours, and even a variety of music festivals.

NPR shared what life is like on the Charleston Tea Plantation in an interview with America’s only fulltime tea taster, William Barclay Hall. Hall gives fascinating insight into growing tea the old-fashioned way:

  • The Charleston Tea Plantation grows cuttings in a nursery for four years instead of planting seeds. These bushes are, unbelievably, descendants of the same plants that were first brought to region in the 1700s.
  • Talk about a taste for tea — Hall is a third generation tea taster (his father and grandfather held the roles before him) who was trained in London. During his training, he tasted as many as 800 teas a day, five days a week!
  • Tea is one of the only commodities in the world bought and sold based on taste, according to Hall. Because tea is harvested on average every 15 days, the taste is always changing based on everything from the temperature, to the amount of rain, to the time of year.
  • Pests stay away from tea! The caffeine and tannins in tea repel insects, so the Charleston Tea plantation doesn’t need to use any pesticide, herbicides or fungicides.
  • Tea leaves are placed on “withering box” screens for 18 hours, and then macerated in a grinder. Hall then steeps, tastes and blends every single batch until he thinks it tastes absolutely right.

Now you know: a little piece of tea history continues on in the modern world, all thanks to Bigelow!

5 Bigelow Tea Sustainability Efforts That Celebrate Earth Month … All Year Long

Earth Month is all of April so let’s celebrate!

Anyone and everyone can do something good for the Earth this month (and, well, all year round!), whether it’s big or small. And that includes Bigelow Tea– it’s about practicing business philosophies that help, not harm. In fact, it’s in our mission statement: “Do the right thing and good things will follow.”

So why do the right thing for the planet? As third generation president and CEO Cindi Bigelow says, “Being responsible is not something my family does because we can do good things, but because we strongly believe that we should and need to do good things, whether it’s for the community, for our employees, or for the environment.”

Need some inspiration for ways to be earthier this month? Read on for some of Bigelow Tea’s famous “SustainabiliTea” efforts and get motivated!

  1. Supporting renewable energy and reducing emissions, our planet stays in good shape for future generations.  By installing 880 solar panels at our Connecticut headquarters, our yearly effort produces about 200,000 kWh which is enough energy to power 527 homes for an entire year, using nothing but the power of the sun.
  1. We’ve been reducing our energy use for years! This has led to a nearly 10 million kWh reduction where energy has been reduced by over 2.5 million kWh in just our Fairfield plant alone through energy efficiency measures. That’s the equivalent of planting 41 million trees. How have we done this? One way is by replacing light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs in offices in all our facilities. So simple, yet so effective – anyone can change their light bulbs to make a difference!
  1. Bigelow Tea has achieved “Zero Waste to Landfill” status. What that means is we’re following the guidelines of the Zero Waste Alliance, which says that a company can claim being a zero waste to landfill facility if no more than 10 per cent of their waste ends up in a landfill.
  1. Bigelow Tea, with the goal of preserving land, purchased the Charleston Tea Plantation in 2003 to save 127 acres of land from real estate development. Today, the plantation has hosted well over 100,000 visitors.
  1. We try to act on the bees’ behalf! Bigelow’s Green Team has planted flowers on our corporate property along an urban train track fence to help provide bees with a better natural habitat.

Feeling inspired now? We hope so!  And hey if you need more encouragement, check out these Bigelow Tea activities planned for each day of Earth Week (April 17-22):

  • Recycling drives for electronics, towels for local animal shelters and business clothing (women’s and men’s) to benefit  Dress for Success
  • Educational exhibits on container gardening, lighting , recycling and composting
  • Lunch and learn with  the Back Yard Bee Keepers Association
  • Plant tours of our facility to showcase our sustainability efforts and our solar panels
  • Local foods will be served in the cafeteria
  • Raffle prizes – packets of seeds, tee shirts, plants  and more

So how will you observe Earth Month? Let us know by sharing anywhere online and tag with #TeaProudly!

The Many Ways Bigelow Tea is All About Green

bigelow tea sustainability

Bigelow Tea is so much more than just a tasty mug of tea; our company also helps save the Earth. Yes, that sounds like quite the statement, but it’s the truth- we believe in practicing business philosophies that help, not harm. It’s right there in our mission statement: “Do the right thing and good things will follow.” So how does our company do sustainabiliTea proudly? Here are some of our many, many ways:

We’re Powered By The Sun.

We are hugely in favor of supporting renewable energy and reducing emissions, to keep our planet in good shape for future generations.  We’ve done this by installing 880 solar panels at our Connecticut headquarters. Every year, this effort produces about 200,000 kWh, which is enough energy to power 527 homes for an entire year – with nothing but the power of the sun. So how does this affect pollution levels? It equals a reduction in pollution roughly equivalent to 200,000 car miles removed from the highways each year. Sit back and sip to that!

We’ve Made An Energy Efficient Environment.

We’ve spent many years reducing our energy use, leading to a nearly 10 million kWh reduction. And we’ve reduced energy by over 2.5 million kWh in just our Fairfield plant alone through energy efficiency measures. In laymen’s terms, that’s the equivalent of planting 41 million trees. How have we done this? One way is by replacing light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs in all offices in all our facilities. Yes, it can be that simple to save the Earth.

We Say No to Landfills. 

We have a company-wide commitment to achieving “Zero Waste to Landfill” status. What that means is we’re following the guidelines of the Zero Waste Alliance, which says that a company can claim being a zero waste to landfill facility if no more than 10 per cent of their waste ends up in a landfill. Guess what? Our company diverts 94% of its solid waste company wide, meaning we have actually surpassed the official guideline. We recycle, and then recycle some more, and

reduce/reuse/compost, all leading to be a Zero Waste to Landfill Company.

We’ve Made A Modern Tea Plantation.

We purchased the Charleston Tea Plantation in 2003, saving the land from development to turn it into America’s own tea garden. This special spot features 127 acres of beauty (and incredible tea leaves!) and welcomes visits from thousands of tea lovers yearly. We’re proud of the Bigelow family’s hard work to keep the traditional tea plantation alive and well with a modern twist!

We Work With Green Suppliers.  

We’re also very proud to work with an environmentally responsible supplier. A couple of the amazing things being done there to ensure our much-loved drink is created with only the crème de la crème of practices:

  • We’re keeping our tea facilities as warm and cozy as the drink thanks to installation of Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) walls, which are 83% more energy efficient compared to traditional walls;
  • We’re fans of geothermal heating and cooling units; using this method for heating or cooling the entire building expansion uses only 1/14th the energy you would need if you used oil.

We know you love tea as much as we do; that’s why we are so delighted to keep our #TeaProudly community in the loop about all about the modern-day environmental choices that keeps that delicious tea in your cup while saving the planet, especially during Go Green Week. Learn more about all the amazing things we’re up to and share with us how you #TeaProudly the “green” way.

Bigelow Tea: A Green Leader!

bigelow-tea-tea-fieldBigelow Tea puts a lot of work into creating delicious teas for your enjoyment, but did you know that Bigelow puts just as much effort into protecting the planet?

Taking care of the environment is reflected in the company’s mission statement: “Do the right thing and good things will follow.” Since the company’s beginnings, Bigelow Tea has held the philosophy that positive practices within our community, our environment, and our business can only ensure positive outcomes. That’s why our SustainabiliTea program is a leader in green initiatives. Here are just some of the incredible ways Bigelow Tea makes a difference:

Energy Conservation

Bigelow has been harnessing the power of the sun for nearly a decade, with 880 solar panels installed at our Connecticut headquarters. This has led to a reduction in pollution approximately equal to 200,000 car miles removed from the highways yearly. Bigelow also uses energy efficient lighting, heating/cooling, and water flow at office headquarters.

Waste Reduction

We’ve committed to achieving Zero Waste to Landfill status, which means diverting at least 90 percent of waste from the landfill. Our company takes it a step further: a full 94 percent is diverted through reducing, recycling, and composting.

Land Preservation

Bigelow Tea purchased the Charleston Tea Plantation in 2003 to save 127 acres of land from real estate development. Today, the plantation has hosted well over 100,000 visitors.

Supplier Relationships

We’ve been working with the same suppliers in countries such as Sri Lanka for several decades because they share our commitment to ethical and sustainable practices.

Even with so many big initiatives, Bigelow is always on the lookout for more ways to be green. For instance, we recently planted a bee-friendly garden in hopes of attracting more native bee species.

No effort is too big or too small as far as we’re concerned; as David Bigelow says, “We’ve been making tea for three generations, and we get better every year.” The same can be said about our sustainability efforts!

Tell us below: what green practices are the most exciting to you, your family and your business?

How Sweet It Is, Indeed: Bigelow Tea Explores Honey!

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Calling all honey lovers! As one of the most popular sweeteners to add to a cup of Bigelow Tea, honey is rich in flavor and history. And for National Honey Month, we thought we’d explore nature’s thick, sweet, syrupy treat.

Honey has a long history – production flourished in ancient Greece and Sicily, and was used to sweeten different foods. The spiritual and therapeutic use of honey in ancient India is documented in Ayurveda texts, which are more than 4,000 years old. A source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, honey—particularly in its raw form—offers unique health benefits. According to research, it’s used as a natural cough suppressant, may help heal wounds and reduce allergy symptoms, and can offer a quick energy boost.

A lot of work goes into each jar of honey. To start, honey bees make honey from the nectar they collect from flowers. The 60,000 or so bees in a beehive may collectively travel as much as 55,000 miles and visit more than two million flowers to gather enough nectar to make just a pound of honey. Unfortunately, bee populations all over the country are drastically declining. Last year, experts warned that four species of bees native to Connecticut, where our headquarters are located, had disappeared from the state in the last 10 years. So we decided to take action on the bees’ behalf. Bigelow’s Green Team recently planted more flowers on our corporate property along an urban train track fence in the hopes of providing bees with a better natural habitat.

Honey adds a little sweetness to our day, so we want to make sure it’s around for many, many days to come. Add a little honey to your favorite Bigelow Tea, or try our Honey and Chamomile Vanilla Honey Herbal Tea before turning in for the night. It’s a great way to make your day that much sweeter!

Bigelow Tea Is Buzzing About Its New Garden!

 

bigelow tea environmentWhat’s the buzz at Bigelow Tea? Helping bees! It’s no secret that bee populations all over the country are being affected by everything from pesticides to a decline in natural habitat.

Last year, experts warned that four species of bees native to Connecticut had disappeared from the state in the last 10 years. So Bigelow decided to take action on the bees’ behalf. Bigelow’s Green Team recently planted more flowers on our corporate property along an urban train track fence in the hopes of providing bees with a better natural habitat. We are happy to report that the new plantings have bloomed and are brightening up the campus. This is just one of Bigelow Tea’s efforts to better our environment. Over the years, some of Bigelow Tea’s sustainability projects have included installing 880 solar panels at our Connecticut headquarters, diverting 94 percent of the company’s solid waste through recycling, reusing, and composting, and taking measures to preserve land.

As Cindi Bigelow says, “Being responsible is not something my family does because we can do good things, but because we strongly believe that we should and need to do good things, whether it’s for the community, for our employees, or for the environment.”

We hope you’ve been inspired to add more bee-friendly plantings to your garden. Let us know: what will you plant?

Learn Why Bigelow Uses Tea From Sri Lanka

 

bigelow tea sri lankaHigh in the mountains of Sri Lanka grow acres of gorgeous tea plants renowned for yielding a light, bright brew prized as “the champagne of teas.” Bigelow Tea founder Ruth Campbell Bigelow fell in love with tea from the region and initiated a partnership that has endured for 67 years! Third-generation President and CEO Cindi Bigelow was thrilled to visit this tiny island country in South Asia to meet the folks who expertly hand-pick tea leaves used in Bigelow’s black teas.

For a rare peek inside the tea gardens of Sri Lanka, check out Cindi’s Sri Lanka journal and videos. And here are a few more interesting facts highlighting why Bigelow Tea embraces Sri Lankan tea producers as part of its extended global family:

  • The British planted the first camellia sinensis (tea) plant in Sri Lanka in the 1800s following a blight that had wiped out the coffee crop, sparking new traditions built around tea farming.
  • Today, tea cultivation is a $1.5 billion industry in Sri Lanka employing more than 1 million people who produce the world’s most expensive tea.
  • Before 1972, while under British colonization, the island was known as “Ceylon.” Hence tea from Sri Lanka is still called Ceylon tea.
  • Every tea estate in Sri Lanka with which Bigelow Tea does business is part of the Ethical Tea Partnership, which promotes fair treatment of workers and sustainable farming practices.
  • With high elevations that can exceed 6,000 feet, Sri Lankan tea gardens boast extremely favorable soil and weather conditions for growing delicate tea plants.
  • Each Sri Lankan estate prides itself on producing signature teas—much the same way vintners age wines for different tastes.

Enjoy the delicious results in your mug of Bigelow black tea! @Daniela441 tweeted his love for English Teatime. What’s your favorite Bigelow black tea blend?

Whether It’s a Bigelow Teabag Or Eggshells, Compost At Home And Make A Difference!

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At Bigelow Tea we care deeply about doing our part to take care of the earth and know our consumers do, too. Composting biodegradable materials from our cafeteria, corporate kitchenettes, labs, conference rooms and Plant areas is one way we demonstrate this core value.  In fact, in the last few years we’ve made a company-wide commitment to achieve “Zero Waste to Landfill” status which means less than 10% of our annual waste ends up in a landfill! But did you know that you can use your Bigelow tea bags to help create your own compost at home?

85% of our Bigelow packaging is compostable, biodegradable, or recyclable. So before you turn to toss that just-used bag of Green Tea into the garbage bin, consider composting it in your yard! Composting at home is as simple as collecting your organic materials you’d normally throw away with your trash into a pile or a bin. Think food scraps, eggshells, Bigelow tea bags (tea, tag, and paper bag minus the staple) and coffee grounds from your kitchen. Compost piles can also include dry leaves from your yard and your Sunday newspaper you read while sipping that cup of Green Tea, just make sure to shred it up first!

Sound simple enough? That’s because it is! Bigelow fans like Marcia Del Greco compost their used tea bags daily and you can too!

Bigelow Tea Fan Kristy Shares How To Start A Tea Bag Garden

bigelow tea garden

At Bigelow Tea, we are big fans of composting, so we get super excited when a tea fan shares a new composting tip, especially when it involves used Bigelow tea bags.  Meet fan Kristy as she shares her family story, the how-tos and pictures on starting a tea bag garden:

You can start a garden easily and with very little expense using tea bags.  When I was growing up, my family would go to Puerto Rico every year for spring break.  It was there, visiting my grandmother (Abuela), that I first learned about tea bag gardening. 

My grandmother always served tea in the evening and collected our used tea bags in a glass jar.  At the time, being about 6 years old, I thought this was an odd practice, so I asked her why she was saving our old tea bags and she said that she would show me in the morning.  The next morning, my grandmother passed on the steps that I will now share with you. 

 

How To Start A Tea Bag Garden

You will need:

  • Disposable serving tray
  • Seeds of your choice
  • Used Bigelow tea bags-any flavor –minus the staple
  • Unbleached paper towels
  • Watering pitcher
  • Small blade/knife (optional)

Step by step instructions:

  1. Begin with a plate, platter or disposable serving tray (found at any Dollar Store).
  1. Line your tray with unbleached paper towels.  Use unbleached paper towels to avoid chemical leaching.
  1. Prepare your fresh tea bags (prepare normally using boiling water from your kettle) or take your collection of used tea bags and moisten them in water.bigelow tea tea garden
  1. Place your moistened tea bags on your tray.  Be sure to allow space between the bags.
  1. Next, using a small blade/knife or your fingers, make a small slit in the tea bags (large enough to plant your seeds).
  1. Now, take 2-3 seeds and push them into the slit that you made in the tea bag so that the seeds are slightly covered by the tea leaves.  Note that because the tea leaves are moist, some of the contents of the tea bag will get on your fingers but be patient and continue to make sure that the seed is indeed in place.
  1. Take your watering pitcher and pour water onto the paper towels-NOT directly onto the teabags.bigelow tea tea bags garden
  1. Now place your tea bag garden in a sunny area and wait for your seeds to sprout.  Be sure to keep the paper towels moistened and depending on sun exposure, temperature and watering, seeds should begin to sprout in 10-15 days.  Note that some seeds do take longer to germinate so don’t give up!
  1. Once you have a small sprout, take the ENTIRE tea bag and plant it in your garden which can be a raised bed or container.   And no worries about doing this because the tea bag that you used as a planter/seed starter is great compost for your garden.

 

As an adult and an avid gardener, I now know that this is a great way to begin your garden as there is less shock to your seedling because you don’t have to remove it from the tea bag. 

I am so happy to pass along my grandmother’s garden/tea tip.  Happy tea drinking and good luck with this season’s garden!

 

Kristy from Shelton, CT
Bigelow Tea Fan

On Earth Day, Bigelow Tea Celebrates Success With Waste Reduction

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Did you know that 94% of Bigelow Tea’s solid waste companywide is diverted from ending up in a landfill (yes, a just in time fact for Earth Month!)?  As a result of exceeding Zero Waste Alliances’ guidelines where no more than 10% of waste gets dumped, we have worked hard to attain and maintain a “Zero Waste to Landfill” status!

Curious about how we make this happen? Pour a cup of your favorite Bigelow Tea and read on to find out what the Bigelow family and all employees do across three manufacturing facilities in order to stay in the ‘green.’

Reduce: Throughout its various offices, Bigelow staffers have cut down on excess printing. For example, copies of customer service orders as well as overall paper usage has been reduced by a whopping 65,000 sheets! Within the packing plants, Bigelow has lowered the amount of shrink-wrap and foil wrap used for packaging and shipping the teas.

Recycle: Bigelow’s plants and offices are committed to recycling. Along with separating bins, initiatives have extended to collecting and properly recycling common and uncommon items like computers/electronics, printer cartridges, old sneakers, cooking oil, and videotapes. Plus 85% of Bigelow’s packaging is recyclable or biodegradable.

Composting: Composting is nature’s way of recycling organic materials by breaking them down. Since November 2010, Bigelow has been doing its part by composting approximately two tons annually from sources such as the cafeterias and landscaping. Plus, Bigelow Tea drinkers (and we have many of course) can compost their tea bags. Just remove the staple from the bag first.

Now Bigelow wants to know what you do to reduce excess waste. Like Melanie Kissell’s Facebook post notes, she is using a separate recycling bin and is no longer buying bottled water.  During Earth Month and beyond, how are you reducing waste?