Sandra MacDonald minds her own beeswax.
Her business of producing beeswax food wraps is worth minding.
“I’m quite excited,” MacDonald said of the Beezy Wrap. “It’s been really popular. The response has been overwhelming. It’s positive, it’s growing and that’s really exciting, especially because it’s something I just started off as a personal mission. It’s grown into a community mission. People are jumping on board.”
The idea took root late last year when MacDonald and the rest of the country learned that China would no longer be accepting and recycling film plastics from Canada.
“I thought as an individual I have to do something,” MacDonald said, “What’s out there that I can use instead of plastic wrap?”
An internet search led her to environmentally friendly cotton wraps infused with an organic coating.
“There are many recipes online,” she said of treating cotton to transform it into food wraps. “I came up with my own recipe. We tested them for a time to make sure that it was good, that it was workable, that it would last, and it was sticky enough.”
The recipe contains beeswax, organic jojoba oil and organic cinnamon oil, all sourced locally orfrom Canada, and pine tree resin from Georgia in the United States. That combination is melted
together and infused into the washed and sterilized cotton.
MacDonald’s wrap factory is the kitchen of her home in Rines Creek, near Shubenacadie.
“My painting studio and my kitchen are the manufacturing quarters for now,” she said. “That’s where the magic happens, on top of a (stove) burner. It’s a big brew of all those ingredients. It’s pretty much brewing all the time. We have people come in to our home and they say, ‘Oh it smells so good in here.’ Cinnamon and beeswax.”
When it’s brewed, she infuses the blend into the cotton that she buys at local fabric stores while she searches out somewhere to order it in bulk.
“All that makes it sticky. If you use beeswax on its own, it’s too hard, it cracks. And it doesn’t really want to stick to itself. I put the cinnamon oil in there because it has anti-microbial and antifungal properties as well. It actually helps keep your food fresh.”
Her website, www.beezywrap. ca, implores visitors to say no to plastics and instead try the reusable wraps that can seal in the goodness of vegetables, fruit, a crusty loaf of bread and snacks. They can also be used to cover a bowl.
The wraps come in several sizes, from the giant 23x17-incher to the large 14x13, the medium 12x10, the small 8x8, and custom orders. MacDonald sells them in packets and individually. Online, the giant sells for $15.99, as does a large two-pack and a medium three-pack. A three-pack of small wraps goes for $10 and variety three-packs sell for $15.99.
MacDonald’s wraps are a hit at the weekly NewGlasgow farm market and other farm markets where she can cajole her husband or grown children to set up shop.
The wraps inspired Paula Bryan of New Glasgow to post a glowing Facebook review.
“I use them pretty much every day,” Bryan said. “Sometimes I’ll package a sandwich to bring to work or I’ll put some crackers in it or make a little pouch out of it. For produce and leftovers, I definitely use them and I’m not using plastic, which is really good.”
Bryan purchased hers at the farm market in New Glasgow three weeks ago and will soon be in the market for more.
“Once the word gets out and people try it for themselves and see that it is super easy to use, it’s at a really great price point and that it keeps your food fresher for much longer, I think it will definitely catch on,” Bryan said. “They are easy to clean, just give it a rinse (in cold water) and let it dry in your sink. It’s all about word of mouth and trying the product.
“If you can do something to save the environment, too, that’s a wonderful thing. It’s absolutely brilliant.”
Calvin Lakhan, a research scientist at the faculty of Environment Studies at York University in
Toronto, said the organic, biodegradable alternative to plastics is a great first step in moving toward a sustainable, zero-waste economy.
To take off on a larger scale, he said, enough cotton wraps would have to be produced to allow companies to readily substitute them for plastics and the price would have to be competitive.
“Unless cotton wraps are comparable to plastics in terms of cost, it is unlikely that producers would forgo plastics in favour of wraps,” Lakhan said.
But MacDonald said those who use the wraps can feel good about doing their part to replace plastics.
“I commented to a friend that it’s really funny the feeling of empowerment that gives you in your kitchen,” MacDonald said. “You are making a conscious choice.”
That choice is keeping Mac-Donald so busy she thinks a parttime employee could be on the horizon.
“When I started making them I gifted them to family and friends and they were just thrilled. And here I am. I started selling them and then it grew. It’s just amazing. It’s all heart-warming and overwhelmingly positive.”
She said people return to the markets to pick up more wraps, stores are approaching her to carry the product, and she is getting requests from different parts of the country.
MacDonald said there are probably several people or companies making and selling wraps with different coatings across the country.
“I expect it will be something people will be trying to make in their own kitchens. I’m not the inventor; I wish I was. It’s not my original thought, it’s my original recipe.”