The Honest Truth about Honest Tea

By Joseph Endler ’15

Who doesn’t love Honest Tea? When Honest Tea came to Catlin Gabel only a few years ago, it changed the way many people drink beverages from the Barn. But maybe this is not such a good thing. Students buy Honest Tea frequently, sometimes multiple times per day or week, without knowing too much about the item they’re purchasing.

For such a popular drink around campus, it has quite a lot of issues that have not been addressed. For one, students may assume that the drink is very healthy. Granted, it may be more healthy than some other soft drinks, it is still important to remember that sugar is the second listed ingredient.

Some may also not know that Honest Tea is wholly owned by the Coca-Cola company. This in itself may be considered a negative factor, due to Coca-Cola’s poor reputation as an overwhelming and large corporate company. Catlin Gabel seems like the type of school that would want to stay away from businesses like Coca-Cola and instead choose to support a smaller type of company.

Coca-Cola is also going through a controversy over Oregon’s GMO bill that failed to pass only a few months ago. The bill would require Coca-Cola to put more information about the specifics of it’s ingredients on the label of their products. Because of this, Coca Cola donated more than 1.5 million dollars to the campaign opposing the bill. Although Honest Tea itself did not donate any money to the cause, the company as a whole is still in opposition of GMO labeling.

The Honest Tea selection at the Barn. (Photo by Joseph Endler)

The Honest Tea selection at the Barn. (Photo by Joseph Endler)

Another issue is that Catlin Gabel students may have trouble recycling it correctly. Although the bottle itself may be recycled, the cap has to be taken off separately and disposed of in the garbage. This may not seem like too big of an ordeal, but for many students, it can be hard to remember. As I learned in 5th grade, just one non-recyclable item in the can may ruin an entire ton of recycling. If you look inside any trash can on Catlin you will see numerous caps not recycled properly. In fact, this past year, the amount of trash we as a campus have created has gone up 34 percent, according to Facilities Director Eric Shawn.

There are several possible solutions to this “Honest” problem. The barn could get a large dispenser of iced tea to replace Honest Tea all together. The Barn already does this for orange juice and lemonade, why not for iced tea? It would be better for the environment as students would no longer have to worry about the containers, and may offer a solution worth thinking about in the long term.

Catlin Gabel’s Food Service Director Hen Truong strives to offer healthy and local foods for students, and has discussed and considered the idea of switching to an Honest Tea alternative.

“Honest Tea in the bottle is almost like a luxury item that you only drink once in a while. I would love for people to get the brewed drinks more often. I also think it is a great idea to get a big tub of iced tea,” commented Hen Truong, Food Service Director.