Tea is a beverage enjoyed by many of us on a frequent or daily basis. After you make your favorite brew, what do you do with the used teabags? Disposing of them is one answer, but a better one would be to take them out to your vegetable garden or compost bin so they can serve another beneficial purpose.

Before using teabags in any gardening fashion, it is important to educate yourself about the bag itself. While many teabags will decompose, others have a polypropylene coating that makes them unfit for composting and gardening. These bags must be discarded, but the tea leaves inside are still very much useful. Simply cut the bag and dump contents into your compost pile then discard the bag in the trash. Bags that are safe to use and will decompose are made of materials such as silk or paper. Do note that even biodegradable bags will have tags and staples that must be discarded.

A worthwhile use for teabags includes placing them in a compost pile. There they are actually able to increase the speed at which decomposition of other items in your pile occurs, thus readying it for use sooner. Once teabags or leaves are placed in a compost pile, they are consumed by earthworms which then process the leaves, resulting in nutrient-rich fertilizer output.

Although worms are useful in the composting process, you can skip the compost pile altogether and take your used tea leaves straight out to the garden where worms are also likely to be present to create the same effect. By adding tea to soil, nitrogen levels are given a boost as is garden health as a whole. Simply burry biodegradable teabags or used, loose tea leaves directly in the garden close to the root system of plants. As an added bonus, teabags and leaves can help with water retention and impede weeds.

In the event that you’d prefer not to bury teabags, simply add them to water and allow to seep until you see the water change color. Once this change occurs, you can use this concoction to water plants for a similarly beneficial effect. Then, before discarding the bag, use it while still in a dampened state to clean the leaves of house plants to spruce them up while giving them a healthy tea infusion at the same time as they absorb tea through their own leaves.

Since tea drinking is a popular activity that is done frequently by many of us, a lot of trash can be generated in the process. Rather than tossing teabags into the trash where they will end up decomposing in a landfill without their many benefits being utilized, give your teabags some additional life in the garden or compost bin. There they can encourage the presence of valuable earthworms and increase soil health as well as help with moisture retention and the inhibition of weed growth, making their use a win all around.

Next time you sit down for tea, think about sharing your leftover bag with the vegetable garden or compost pile. As you see your garden thrive, you won’t regret taking that extra step to keep your garden robust. In addition to having happy, healthy plants, the earthworm population will be grateful, and productive, as well, giving you further incentive to enjoy a cup of tea.