Going plastic-free for a month is hard, but it's a lot easier than going plastic-free forever. At our house, it's a constant quest to make our daily habits more sustainable.
We've had visitors over the holidays and they've been scratching their heads at our various waste management systems. At this moment, we have an Earthmaker compost bin mostly for our garden waste; a Hungry Bin worm farm for all the things that worms like; a Bokashi CompostZing system for all the other food waste; the city glass collection bin; a red bin for rubbish; a yellow bin for paper, cardboard, plastic (1 and 2), and aluminium; and, a giant bag of soft plastic awaiting the supermarket collection scheme to re-start in April hopefully. We also have several sheets of paper taped to the wall reminding us what goes where and outlining the collection schedule, which we inevitably mix up.
Beeswax wraps are a great alternative to plastic wrap and plastic sandwich bags. We were given a sandwich-sized wrap as a gift two years ago and it's just now needing a refresher after regular use. I can't say the same about any of our plastic bags and sadly many of them are still alive and well in a heap at the dump. Beeswax wraps are long-lasting, smell delicious, and keep food fresh. Best of all, they're fun and easy to make. Inspired yet?
You will need:
- Cotton fabric, pre-washed and cut to desired size. Pinking shears will help to minimise fraying, but the beeswax helps prevent fraying, too, so don't fret if you don't have any.
- Beeswax. You can buy blocks that are premixed with tree resin and jojoba oil or you can use straight beeswax. (You can also buy beeswax, tree resin, and jojoba oil separately and mix them yourself, though I haven't tried this method and understand you should use your least favourite pot as cleaning can be challenging). Beeswax wrap kits are widely available in New Zealand: Dees Bees, Shaman's Garden, Ecowarehouse and more.
- Vegetable peeler or grater. The peeler worked well for me and was easy to clean.
- Baking paper.
Step 1. Cut cotton fabric to desired dimensions. I use 30 x 30cm for sandwiches. Circular shapes are a fancy way to cover bowls.
Step 2. Peel or grate the wax. Distribute the beeswax mixture over the fabric evenly. It will melt and spread on its own when the heat is applied.
Step 3. With baking paper under the bottom and over top, iron the beeswax to melt it onto the cloth.
Repeat steps 2 and 3, applying more beeswax to any uncovered areas to distribute wax evenly over the whole cloth.
Step 4. Hang to cool. Cooling happens pretty much instantly.
Step 5. Wrap it up. Use the warmth of your hands to mould the beeswax to the desired shape.
Bees are such magical little beasts and I am grateful to use of their products. Good luck making your own! Remember to wash your beeswax wrap in mild detergent under cold water so that beeswax doesn't wash away.