Story by Vivienne Pearson
If any of your new-year resolutions involved reducing your impact on the environment, this is the story for you!
You’re in the kitchen doing one of the following: unpacking food from the market, unwrapping a block of cheese, making the kids’ lunches, putting leftovers from dinner in a bowl or bringing in veges from your patch. What do you reach for to cover or wrap this food? A plastic bag or cling film? Likely, your answer involves something to do with plastic.
This was the dilemma facing Sherrie Adams a few years ago. With five children, the school lunch scenario was particularly significant and it was her dislike of plastic wrap that got her thinking about alternatives. She started experimenting and developed a method of impregnating cloth with beeswax. She started selling at local markets and quickly discovered that she wasn’t the only one interested in a sustainable food-wrap option.
Though Sherrie never intended for her wraps to become a full-scale business, Honeybee Wrap was born and a mere three years later, the business has grown from Sherrie on her farm to selling via more than 300 stores nationwide and with export on the cards. Sherrie is rightly proud of how this unexpected turn has created jobs for locals: ‘I’ve been able to give six women jobs,’ she says. ‘Everyone who works here is beautiful; we have a great team.’
‘It all started from asking the question of how, as a large family, we could reduce our impact on the earth,’ says Sherrie. ‘It’s also about food wastage; after all, food is expensive,’ she adds.
The wraps are made from certified organic cotton, coloured with low-impact dyes then impregnated with beeswax. The result is a flexible wrap that seals around any shape, whether a bowl, block of cheese or a cut avocado. The beeswax means the wrap sticks to itself, so no other fastening is required. ‘The heat of your hands softens the wax enough for the wrap to be malleable around whatever you are covering,’ says Sherrie.
The advantages of the wraps are more than avoiding plastic. ‘Beeswax has antibacterial and antifungal properties,’ explains Sherrie. ‘It has been used dating back to ancient times and we think of it as a food preserver – customers say that their food lasts 3–5 times longer’. Sherrie tells the story of recently finding shallots in the back of her fridge. ‘They’d been there for about five weeks and when I unwrapped them, they were not only still looking fresh but they were sprouting!’
Each wrap lasts around 12 months, longer with careful use. At the end, you can add them to your compost, fitting with the business’s aim to be waste-free. The only waste created in the manufacture of the wraps are fabric offcuts, which are crafted into quilts and auctioned for charity by Bangalow Quilters and the Mullumbimby Hospital Auxilliary – so as well as your food, you can wrap yourself in a Honeybee wrap!
Honeybee Wrap: available from Mullum, Byron, Bangalow and the Byron Artisan markets, selected local retailers and via www.honeybeewrap.com.au