The hands-down easiest zero waste kitchen swap you can make

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Whether you’ve committed to a zero waste lifestyle, or are simply giving plastic-free living a whirl during Plastic Free July, chances are you’ve already eliminated cling wrap from your kitchen.

And not a moment too soon… cling wrap is unwieldy at best, and terrible for the environment at worst.

Not only that, when cling wrap is heated in the microwave, it may leach chemicals (including endocrine disrupting chemicals) into your food, which can cause both short- and long-term health issues. (More on that here.)

Fortunately, not only is there a better alternative health-wise, there’s also one that’s immeasurably better for the environment – reusable beeswax wraps.

I purchased my own beeswax wraps nearly 18 months ago and they’re still going strong. I predominantly use them to wrap bread, cheese, avocado and fruit, as well as sandwiches when we’re on the go.

I’m still somewhat puzzled as to why cling wrap was invented when such a fantastic alternative already existed, so I thought I’d bring in an expert on the subject – founder and director of Apiwraps Reusable Beeswax Wraps, Freyja Tasci – to tell us more.

Freyja and I spoke about the advantages of beeswax wraps over conventional cling wrap, why Apiwraps uses GOTS certified organic cotton when making their wraps, and learnt about how Freyja turned a hobby into a thriving business.

What inspired you to start Apiwraps?

Eight years ago I had little ones with allergies, and I was spending a fortune on organic fruit and veggies trying to keep them healthy and safe from nasties.

I’ve never really used plastic produce bags and all my veggies would wilt in the fridge.

I was studying the last few units of my degree in literature while I was home having babies, and I read in one of my Australian Literature units a short story that mentioned that the drovers used oilskin to wrap food on the road.

I thought about an oilskin bag or jacket and it just made sense – it’s waterproof, it can breathe – but I couldn’t buy a piece of it, so I had to make it myself.

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Why is it important that you use GOTS certified organic cotton when making your beeswax wraps?

Firstly, GOTS is the highest level of organic certification available; it covers not only the growing and production of the textiles but the fair wages, no coercion or child labour.

I believe that in the West, we have a responsibility to uphold those ideals given our economic privilege and education.

Secondly, the chemicals used in the processing of conventional cotton include formaldehyde, arsenic and other agents that don’t belong on our food.

What are some of the advantages of beeswax wraps over conventional cling wrap (other than it not being plastic!)?

So many! Firstly, Apiwraps keep your veggies and cheese fresh for longer by keeping them from drying out. The wraps also allow the food to breathe, which means they don’t “sweat” and won’t spoil (think slimy lettuce leaves!).

Secondly, it avoids any nasty chemicals in your kitchen and on your food. The chemicals that make cling wrap so flexible are known endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), which can mess with your hormones, and they are also fat-soluble. That means that cling wrap on cheese (or leftovers with any oil content) creates an efficient transport system into your body ready to cause thyroid, estrogen and reproductive issues.

Thirdly, single-use plastic simply must become a thing of the past.

What’s been the most challenging part of your business journey?

The learning curve between being creative in the kitchen and mass production.

I’ve always been a passionate crafter – sewing clothes, knitting, woodworking and design. That does not prepare one for the issues that come up in mass production.

Many times I’ve completely revised the way we were doing things, only to realise weeks later that we were already growing out of the new systems we’d implemented. If I’d planned to grow from the start we would have grown much faster.

Also, that I’ve bootstrapped the business. Starting a business with some capital behind you (instead of $200 of your housekeeping money) is a much more sensible way to start a business!

In the 21st century we really do revere entrepreneurialism, but eight years in I don’t know if I really agree that it’s a good thing for the business, the product and the longevity of the influence we’re trying to achieve.

What are some of the ways you try to live more sustainably at home?

I’m fortunate to have grown up with one of the most informed and passionate women I know – my mother. It means that I’ve never really used disposable products, and have been cleaning with the right products from the start.

My children know not even to ask when they see an exciting plastic toy and our landfill rubbish fits in a tiny canister on the bench top, while our compost bin is the larger one.

We keep looking for where we can make changes though.

If you could convince people to adopt one major eco-friendly practice in their own lives, what would it be?

I believe the most impact can be gained from shopping local and cooking from scratch.

Planning meals ahead leads to less waste and better nutrition. Eating well in an unhurried way means you’re less likely to reach for convenience options that are often packaged in plastic, contain a host of additives and include crops that are huge in their negative environmental impact.

Cooking real food at home is a way that we can influence the next generation to be more sustainable right from the start, and the associated benefits compound with time.

Who do you look to for inspiration in your life?

Being inspired and engaged with mentors and leaders is, in my opinion, the greatest gift that the internet has brought our generation.

I follow a lot of incredible people; at the moment I love every single thing that Elizabeth Gilbert says. I’ve been profoundly influenced by Simon Sinek and his books, and here in Australia I often return to Stephanie Dowrick’s writing for comfort, guidance and support.

Which book is currently on your nightstand?

I’m reading Hugh Mackay’s The Art Of Belonging – borrowed from my local library.

Thanks for your time, Freyja!