Happy Bee Beeswax Wraps: Locally Made, Guilt-Free

Mar 07, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Reusable beeswax wraps made from upcycled or donated fabric are an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic wrap and sandwich bags, and they’re easy to make at home, purchase at Yoga Hive Studio in the Manahawkin Mart, and order direct from Happy Bee Beeswax Wraps (on Facebook). Yoga Hive’s Jenn McConnell started making the wraps two or three years ago, she said, to get away from single-use plastic, which ends up in landfills.

“Plastic is not fantastic!” she quipped. “It never, ever goes away. Most things we put in the recycling bins don’t even get recycled.” She was referring to what’s known as “residual” – small bits, broken glass, items that don’t belong in the bins (ahem, pizza boxes), or certain types of plastic – items that get removed in the sorting process at the recycling plant because they affect the purity of a batch of recycled materials and therefore its value to a manufacturer.

The philosophy behind the wraps is waste reduction, which sounds like a pre-bikini-season workout (that’s a homophone joke), but it’s really a lifestyle of consciously producing the least trash and recyclables. McConnell belongs to a Facebook group, Journey to Zero-Waste, some 63,000 members strong, dedicated to the concepts of minimalism, sustainability and making less “trashy” choices.

She demonstrated the ease with which she makes the wraps in her home kitchen with a helping hand from daughter Dharma.

She places a square of thin cotton fabric on the designated baking sheet. On top of the square she sprinkles a small handful of cosmetic-grade yellow beeswax pellets she ordered from Amazon and places the tray in a warm oven, 170 to 200 degrees. A few minutes later, the wax has melted and saturated the cloth. She removes the tray, picks up the cloth and lets it drip a moment before draping it over the arm of a chair to dry and stiffen. A few minutes after that, the wrap is ready to cover a bowl of salad, enfold a sandwich or block of cheese, embrace an unused portion of lemon or onion, and so much more.

The warmth of the user’s hands softens the wax and helps it mold to whatever it’s protecting. To care for the wrap, use a damp sponge to wipe it clean, or wash it in tepid soapy water. When the wax coating starts to look crackly or worn, try adding a couple more pellets and re-melting in the oven, or, if it’s reached the end of its useful lifespan, go ahead and toss it away (it’s biodegradable) and make a new one. Or buy some more. At $3, $5, $7 or $15 for a combo pack, considering each is good for 75 to 100 uses, they’re more cost effective than Saran Wrap and Ziploc bags.

They’re also cute dish toppers and hostess gifts when bringing a fruit salad or guacamole to a dinner party. For kids, bringing them to school in a home-packed lunch is “like having the cool book cover,” she said.

McConnell finds fabrics with fun, pretty, funky or interesting prints at the local thrift shops and craft stores, cuts up shirts or vintage pillowcases, or uses scraps given to her by friends. —V.F.

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