Meet the Maker

Meet the Maker: Kath Austin, BeeBee Wraps Founder

Kath Austin founder of BeeBee wraps in conversation with in greens

If you are trying to reduce plastic waste in the kitchen, beeswax wraps are an amazing natural and reusable replacement for cling-film. They are the perfect solution for covering bowls, as well as wrapping cheese, bread, snacks and sandwiches. BeeBee Wraps is a small Cambridge-based company. Their beeswax wraps are made from organic cotton printed with colourful and vibrant patterns. The cotton is coated with beeswax, which is non-toxic and naturally anti-bacterial. With proper care the wraps can last for a year, and at the end of their life can be composted or even used as firelighters!

We had a chat with BeeBee Wraps founder Kath Austin to find out more:

What inspired you on your journey to reduce your plastic waste?

I was baking bread at home and needed a way to keep the bread fresh, but thought plastic was the only thing that really worked. When I researched what people used before plastic, I found a grassroots industry of beeswax wrap makers. I made some at home, and my bread has never been so fresh! Best thing since sliced bread!

Why did you start your company BeeBee Wraps?

I didn’t set out to start a business, I started making wraps to solve the plastic problem in our household. Once my friends caught wind of them they encouraged me to market the wraps. I did, and they sold really well.

When did you go into business and how many people do you employ now?

We started trading in April 2017 and made the wraps in my kitchen. Now we’re employing ten people and have a workshop in Cambridge creating thousands of wraps every months! Our production team is flat out most of the time. We haven’t had a moment when we felt like we’ve caught up! Describe a typical work day at BeeBee Wraps That’s a hard question. Every day is so different. Last week I was standing in the NEC at a trade show talking to potential wholesalers, this week we are shooting the product images for our new range, next week we are in the office working on building up our website ready for the launch. We also spend a lot of time talking to our customers.

Why do you use organic cotton for your wraps?

I am passionate about avoiding the situation where we solve a problem on one hand, whilst creating another on the other hand. On the surface of it, using standard cotton works pretty well as a base for wraps. However, dig a little deeper and you’ll find that standard cotton might be grown from GMO seed; pesticides are routinely used in the growing; the cotton farmers are unfairly treated, poorly paid and sometimes use child labour; the intensive farming damages land and eventually will strip the soil of nutrients, rendering it useless for anything. We only use GOTS certified organic cotton, which extends also to the dyes used in the printing of our in-house designs. The dyes are also organic and certified as low toxicity and safe to be used in contact with skin and food… We believe in these organic principles so fervently, they underpin our company and are written in the articles of association.

Who designs your beautiful fabric patterns?

All of our current fabrics are a collaboration between Karen Jinks and Team BeeBee. Karen is a Cambridge based designer who really understands our style. Karen is an honorary member of Team BeeBee! We felt it was very important to make BeeBee Wraps beautiful and appealing. And that’s how to get more people on board with a new way to store food avoiding plastic pollution.

All of our current fabrics are a collaboration between Karen Jinks and Team BeeBee. Karen is a Cambridge based designer who really understands our style. Karen is an honorary member of Team BeeBee! We felt it was very important to make BeeBee Wraps beautiful and appealing. And that’s how to get more people on board with a new way to store food avoiding plastic pollution.

What other ‘ingredients’ are used to make BeeBee Wraps and why?

We use British beeswax sourced from bee farmers who work with the British Bee Farmers Welfare Code of Conduct. We also use organic jojoba oil to give the beeswax some pliability (no cracking in the fridge!) and we add in some sustainably sourced tree resin to add some extra stick. All of the ingredients are safe for use in food contact materials and best of all will compost down back to the earth or burn to nothing as firelighters in your BBQ.

Is it possible to make a vegan version without using beeswax?

Yes it absolutely is possible. There are a number of vegan waxes that do a good job in place of beeswax. I haven’t yet come across a wax that boasts the same antibacterial properties as beeswax, but I continue my search!

What are your personal highlights as a sustainable business owner?

Having a direct impact on the way people interact with food has been amazing. The power is literally in my hands, unlike when I’ve worked in huge organisations. We can make changes within our business very quickly to respond to market demand and we see direct feedback from our customer who have switched from single use plastic to BeeBee Wraps. That’s a huge boost to me and makes the hard work worthwhile.

Do you have any dreams or goals for the company?

I would love to see BeeBee Wraps understood as a concept in households throughout the UK. Part of our remit at the moment is to simply spread the concept because it is so unknown. I would love to see BeeBee Wraps extend our range of prints even more and bring in further products which reduce plastic pollution too.

What are your top tips for someone starting a zero-waste lifestyle?

Making habit changes are hard work so start small. Finding a zero waste solution that makes you instantly happy and doesn’t compromise on aesthetic will make it easier. Then you can move onto more difficult switches. For example, I found using a beautifully designed water bottle a very easy switch from a plastic bottle. Using beeswax wraps is made easier when the design is something that makes me happy, which is why we work really hard to design beautiful prints. Before you know it you’ll be a on a roll with zero waste alternatives and the less easy switches will be much more appealing!

 

You can purchase your BeeBee wraps in our plastic free shop, click here to view the range.

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