Updated: Dec 3, 2018
From the kitchen table to scaling up from their home in Cambridge, BeeBee Wraps is a growing maker of organic food wraps with sustainability at the core. Inspired by a traditional craft, Kath and her team have worked hard to bring wraps back to a new eco-conscious generation.
Here's my interview with Kath about the story that brought her here:
Tell me about BeeBee Wraps
BeeBee Wraps are a plastic-free alternative to cling film made from organic cotton and beeswax. They keep food better than cling film and after a year of life can be added to the compost heap or used as a firelighter. They're a simple way to close the loop on waste.
It's been 18 months now since you started. How did it all begin?
About five years ago, I got fed up of using cling film and plastic to store my food. I was baking my own sourdough. When you make bread yourself you don't get the packaging with it, so I was looking for ways to keep it fresh.
I did some research on Google and found out that, in the past, people used wax and cotton to store food. There are still bread bakers today who use a kind of waxed paper, but it isn't compostable.
I decided to have a go and ripped up my sheets, using beeswax and experimenting about the house for a long time. My friends were interested in my wraps and one of them said I should do something with the idea. So I kept experimenting.
Beeswax cracks in the fridge. To stop that, I started diluting it with coconut oil and then jojoba oil. I used tree resin to make the wrap grippy.
Once I was ready to put the business online, the orders flooded in at break neck speed! At the time we were one of the first to make beeswax wraps and we're definitely making them on a larger scale than others. Food wraps are a cottage industry - anyone can have a go. For us now, it's about serving more customers. We're about to take the leap!
And it's messy! My kitchen floor has never forgiven me.
What are the values behind what you do? How do you keep it sustainable?
As a business we wanted to make sure we didn't solve one problem, only to make another. Our social mission articles were in place from the start - to create a truly sustainable business.
We pledged to only use sustainable material. We’re one of the only producers who only uses 100% organic cotton. We're the only manufacturer who only uses organic. Normal cotton contains toxic dyes and the working standards to create it are often appalling. By choosing organic, we could ensure that the due diligence had already been done. All our wraps are made with British beeswax. There are higher standards for bee welfare here.
All our packaging is made from recycled paper, we send recycled boxes. We send recycled boxes to stockists and use all our off-cuts to make firelighters.
At a personal level, it means thinking about what you need. When I started BeeBee Wraps, it got me thinking. I had a bit of an addiction to cheap fashion that I hadn't yet been able to curb - and it was costing me money! In the end, my ethics were stronger than my addiction. Now I'll buy either second hand or ethically made clothing. I'm short, so it's hard with jeans! In that case I'll buy just one good quality pair and wear them into the ground.
And BeeBee Wraps has grown! What's it like running the business now?
It's nothing like I'd anticipated. I've changed jobs! At the beginning it was all making. I would listen to music and watch videos on my phone, propped up as I made the wraps. It was easy.
Things changed when I got my first employee. Now I don’t get much time working on production as I’m more focused on running other parts of the business. I still have a lot of creative input as I'm directing the future of where we go. It's exciting and empowering!
At the moment we're perfecting the BeeBee Wraps range. We’re creating a new pack size and bringing firelighters to market- it’s going to be an exciting launch!
What's your favourite way to use a wax wrap?
One of the most surprising and ingenious ways to use a wrap is to fold a giant wrap in half and pat the edges down. It makes a pouch you can use to store salad in. It'll last so much longer than in a plastic bag. It's a real game changer for anyone who knows how hard it is to keep green things fresh.
You can also make cool pouches by folding a wrap in half diagonally and pinching in the corners...
There's a lot of talk at the moment about how to celebrate Christmas more ethically. What's your take on it?
Christmas shouldn't be about things. My most precious resource is time. It's a currency I can't earn more of. To give and receive time is a bigger gift. Do you remember what you got for Christmas last year? It's the experience that counts.
When asked what I want for Christmas, for me, it's simply experiences and consumables that help me close the loop on waste, or something that can be reused and handed down generations.
One thing I'll be saying no to is cheap plastic gifts that are used just once for novelty. Take the gifts inside crackers - you can avoid those by making your own. Take cardboard and put the snap inside if you want. Fill the crackers with biscuits, chocolate or terrible dares if you're feeling naughty! It doesn't take much time.
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