If like us you are concerned about single-use plastics and looking for ways to reduce plastic use, let me tell you about this amazingly versatile and innovative food storage solution, and fantastic local success story.
The Beeswax Wrap Co. was started in 2017 by two friends, Carly and Fran. Carly, a teacher, was looking for an alternative to cling film. Frustrated that it can only be used once before it loses its static cling she was searching for a better way to store food. She began researching and found that she could make cotton wraps treated with beeswax that were reusable and safe. She made a batch to sell at a market in Bristol, and even though it was a quiet day for the market Carly sold out completely. She knew she was onto a winner! The Better Food company in Bristol were her first wholesale customer but it was when she got together with her friend Fran that things really took off. Fran produced a website and instagram page, and suddenly the orders began to pour in. In January 2018 they sold as many wraps as in the whole of 2017. Now, with 15,000 instagram followers and 10 staff they are already outgrowing their premises in Inchbrook Mill, Nailsworth.
I met Carly for coffee to discuss her wraps and she brought along Baby Flo, the most placid, smiley baby you could ever hope to meet! “She’s one of the team,” Carly explains. “She’s quite happy to be passed around at work. We call her Boss baby.”
Carly pulls some neat, brightly coloured packages from her bag. Flo smiles away unimpressed – she’s seen it all before but my mind is blown! The wraps are so easy to use: you just fold them round the food and press the edges together to form a seal that keeps your food fresh. You could fashion a wrap into a funnel or piping bag, or even a cereal bowl! When you’ve finished using them you wash them with cool, soapy water and they are good to use again. Occasionally you’ll need to treat them in a warm oven so that the wax re-covers the material fully, but the wraps will last for a year. They are beautiful to look at too. Carly tells me “Once we started to get an instagram following, artists began to contact us offering to create our designs. We worked with Jo DePace to make our main prints. Having ordered 4,000 metres of our first design we realised that we were running out of material so fast that we had to rush ahead and launch our first charity wrap early to keep up with demand!” They now sell a wrap supporting Surfers Against Sewage, a charity tackling plastic pollution.
Carly and Fran’s latest product is a vegan wrap as many people feel beeswax is not suitable for a vegan lifestyle. The problem they found was that while all their beeswax comes from a local beekeeper, the most common alternative waxes, soy and candelilla, would need to be imported from South America and therefore have a heavy carbon footprint. Having done a lot of research into alternatives, Carly and Fran eventually found a suitable blend of natural waxes made in the UK.
With attention from writer Liz Earle and BBC Good Food Magazine the wraps have become a runaway success, They are now stocked in Oxfam stores all over the country; at River Cottage and in many other locations across the UK and Europe. You can buy some locally at The Stroud Valleys Project shop, Shiny Goodness in Nailsworth and Oxfam, or visit the website to place an order and sign up to the newsletter to hear more about this brilliant local company.