Sydney Design Festival

Sydney Design Festival

Jim Watts March 28, 2018

This month we participated in Sydney Design Festival, as part of an event called Good Natured presented by Super Local Studios.
The Organic Tea Project was one of five panellists asked to present and discuss our experience with Circular Design.

The other panellists were Jennifer Kwok who talked about the five elements of design and nature in the urban landscape.


A presentation on the App Plant Life Balance,
that encourages integrating plants
in everyday life.  

Waverley Council spoke about local fauna and flora. Photographer Julia Champtaloup presented and discussed her Terra Botanica project and Valentina Zarew gave her first public talk about Simpatico, reflecting on creative practices and sustainability.


Circular design

The idea of designing experiences from start to end applies to The Organic Tea Project. From plantation to pot, we have mapped out how our tea walks more lightly on the planet and critically, avoids chemicals that our mainstream tea drinkers ingest. 

We started from a passion for tea and a growing awareness of the scale of pesticides, specifically high levels of fluoride and damaging farming practices, that affect the tea pickers as well as the soil from mass-market tea brand practices.

An example of how design has been central to our story is when we started with only loose leaf tea. We realized that tea bags were popular and we needed to solve that as a packaging option. What is presented as a paper tea bag actually has a  polypropylene material that is both bad for the environment and our bodies. So we sourced and worked on developing a plant-based cellulose product that is fully biodegradable. It is a superior choice from a sustainability perspective.

Another example is our tea box packaging that is hand silk screened as an alternative to an offset machine. We purchased a letterpress machine and silkscreen drying racks a decade ago with a view to creating work. This unit now employs many locals from my childhood home, Auroville in India.

The local employees are our friends that we know and trust to maintain a beautiful artisan practice employing over 20 people. All our printing is done on unbleached recyclable papers and non-toxic water-based inks further supporting our sustainability beliefs. 

The journey to less waste and circular design does not finish there. As we grow we have more challenges to be better, and we are extremely mindful of this in our business practices. For us to succeed, we need to continue to find our true customers that make their tea buying decisions based on quality tea as much as the ethics and practices that go into producing it.

We are not the only organic tea brand in the market, however, our decades' long relationship with single estate plantations in India, where we create safe and fair employment, makes us so much more than a marketing message. 

Happy brewing,