Cling On, Wax Off

Cling film, ya’ll.
I understand. The handiness. The cheapy cheapness. You need to cover the leftover potato salad from Christmas so you whack a sheet of plastic fantastic over the bowl and voila! When you next need to chow, you take the wrap off and it doesn’t matter that it has mayonnaise on it because you can just chuck it away! Easy.

But where does it go after you’ve popped it in the bin, out of sight out of mind? Collected by the garbage truck and taken to the nearest landfill? Swept up by a gust of wind and blown into a stormwater drain and taken out to sea? Picked up by a scavenging seagull or other animal?

My zero-waste motto for this year is “There is No Away”. It reminds me that everything I use has a life cycle. What happens to a product once it is out of my life, and how does this affect others and the earth?

When I ask that question about cling film, the result is not positive. For such a small and unnecessary purpose, it has a long lasting and negative impact.

So what can we change?

– Does it need to be wrapped at all? Sammies and other lunch goodies can just as easily be popped in reusable containers. Using a plate or bowl as a lid over your leftovers is also awesome.
– Alternatives. There are many out there! Reusable containers, damp covering cloths, paper bags, jars, wax wraps, and baking paper are all preferable to cling film. Many people turn to aluminium foil, though a quick search will tell you that this may actually be less environmentally friendly.

Personally I am a huge fan of wax wraps. We’ve already talked about the wonderful Honeywrap,  and there are other brands out there too (although the added bonus of Honeywrap is that it hasn’t got plastic packaging and has therefore been my first choice.). However I decided this year to make my own Christmas gifts and I ended up making my own wax wraps! Yippee!

I needed: cloth, bees wax, a sewing machine + accessories, baking paper, an oven, a cheese grater, string + pegs, and a partner in crime.

I am very lucky to have Henrietta in my life. She’s a cool chickadee who is also interested in environmentalism and conveniently has a family that keeps a few beehives. Having recently harvested honey, Henrietta set about separating the leftover wax and then bringing it over to my house to play! This was our method:

1. We cut our cloth into variously sized squares, then Henrietta ironed and I sewed up the hems. I imagine there are ways of avoiding fraying but I was in Christmas sewing mode, so we just went for it.

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 6.32.13 pm
2. We preheated the oven to a random temp because all the numbers have rubbed off my oven. But it was a medium-ish heat. Go with that. We then lined oven trays with baking paper.
3. We popped a couple of cloths on the tray, then sprinkled grated beeswax evenly over the top. The wax was actually quite tough to grate, so shout out to Shaun for dutifully putting in some elbow grease for us, while somehow managing to play computer games at the same time. I don’t even know.
4. Chucked them in the oven until everything seemed melted and looked ok.
5. Used a makeshift clothesline to peg the cloths out to cool.
6. Done! We even used leftover wax to make a few candles at the same time.
Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 6.32.34 pm
7. Tidy up is a bit of a mission when it comes to wax. Henrietta’s tip is to use boiling water and paper towels, which worked like a charm. Still, I don’t recommend using any precious kitchen items on a project like this.

So that’s that! They work great, they look, great, they smell HEAVENLY. And as a plus my Christmas presents went down a treat. I made reusable hessian bags with denim designs and inside went an assortment of goodies: the wax wraps and candles, bamboo toothbrushes, homemade lemon, honey, and ginger cordial, jars of Henrietta’s honey, and reusable metal straws. I reused bits of paper collected throughout the year as wrapping/labelling paper and tied them up with leftover hessian threads and reused rubber bands. Went down a treat 😀
Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 6.32.57 pm
So, that’s a wrap. Hope you all had wonderful holidays!
See you next month – Poppy x

9 thoughts on “Cling On, Wax Off

  1. Love this idea. Love the whole story. But….how do the wax wraps actually work?
    I’m guessing they can keep air/moisture in the food/container, and kind of mold to the edges of the container/bowl/plate. Or wrap sandwiches or other food?
    But does the wax flake off the fabric. And into the food?
    How do you wash it?
    We are trying to having a plastic free month, (doing well so far) as a trial run of how to have a very reduced plastic use in the future.
    Thanks
    Margaret

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The ones we made could be washed in hot soapy water just like the rest of the dishes. The wax stays soaked into the fabric and doesn’t wash out.
      Any surface lumps of wax can be removed if you’re concerned about it getting into food but that shouldn’t really be a problem.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi Margaret, thanks for your questions!
      The wraps work much as you’ve just outlined – they are air and water tight so they can form a seal when molded against a surface or itself. You use the heat of your hands to soften the wax enough to shape the wrap and seal the edges.
      There is quite a small amount of wax used, and it is absorbed into the fabric so it doesn’t flake. Although I guess that if you make your own and use too much wax, this could be a possibly!
      You wash your wrap by rinsing or wiping it with COLD water. This clears any residue but doesn’t melt the wax. Like honey, beeswax has antibacterial properties so don’t worry too much about it getting dirty
      It’s awesome that you’re having a go at reducing your plastic use! Best of luck x Poppy

      Like

  2. Just a thought on the environmental impact of this with the clean up you use paper towels. Surely that adds to the landfill when you can reuse your cotton towels.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My husband and I made some wax cloths for medieval style camping. We just melted the wax in a ceramic pot and dipped squares of fabric in. The edges don’t fray because the wax seals them. Then we pegged them on the washing line to dry/cool. They can be washed with the dishes in the usual fashion – as the wax is impregnated into the fabric it stays waterproof and sealed no matter how you scrunch them 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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