Queen's Eats: The piping hot truth about the Tea Room’s ecological efforts

Spilling the tea on how this campus cafe maintains its sustainability mandate

The Tea Room commits to sustainability without sacrificing quality.

The Tea Room, located in Beamish-Munro Hall, has been an on-campus favourite since its conception in 2006. This student-run café specializing in loose-leaf teas, coffee, espresso, and select lunch items is not only an inviting study spot, but a leader in sustainable business practices.

Founded on three pillars—environmental responsibility, community education, and fiscal sustainability—The Tea Room produces zero consumer waste, and is carbon neutral.

The café avoids consumer waste by using compostable cups and packaging, meaning every product that leaves the store is either edible or biodegradable. While the store uses energy to heat, light, and power operations, they exclusively use renewable energy sources as opposed to fossil fuels.

Additionally, any carbon emissions the store does expend are offset through planting hundreds of trees a year through their Teas for Trees campaign in partnership with the Rideau Valley Conservation Authority.

Commercial cafés have recently shifted toward better sustainability practices by eliminating plastic straws and giving consumers discounts on drinks if they bring travel mugs. That’s why a zero-consumer-waste café on campus is now more important than ever.

Trevor Egan, The Tea Room’s sustainability manager, told The Journal he recognizes the importance of an environmentally-driven café within the community—not as an exact blueprint for sustainable business, but as a model for inspiring eco-friendly practices.

In part, The Tea Room’s success in sustainability is possible because they’re a non-profit, but their greatest challenge that remains is fiscal sustainability: balancing a green mandate with meeting bottom lines.

Moving forward, The Tea Room wants to expand its roster of sustainable projects, hoping to invest in regenerative farming and local farmers, and continue reducing carbon emissions.

Treating yourself feels infinitely better when purchasing from a sustainable source. So cozy up with a cup of one of The Tea Room’s plethora of loose-leaf selections. Try the Swiss Hot Chocolate tea with a splash of milk for a taste of the holidays, or sip on a hot apple cider to get into the autumnal spirit.

If you’re looking for a quick bite between classes, they also serve bagels sourced from a local bakery with artisanal cream cheeses from Maria’s Dream Come True Kitchen. Or you can explore the variety of wraps and sandwiches they offer, from the beloved Chicken Pesto Sandwich to the veggie-filled Thai Peanut Wrap.

Businesses like The Tea Room are making the shift towards sustainability, but it’s just as important to exercise individual environmental responsibility. Next time you pop into The Tea Room—or any coffee shop, for that matter—consider bringing along a travel mug and tupperware.

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