Beeswax Wraps Replace Plastic Wrap

Last updated on February 27, 2021.

Beeswax wrap over a bowl
Image by RikaC from Pixabay

If you’re reading about beeswax wraps, chances are that you already know that plastic wrap and plastic Ziploc bags are single-use disposable items and they are unsafe for human health and the environment. Annually in the U.S., we purchase millions of rolls of plastic wrap and boxes of Ziploc bags. They are not recyclable, and in landfills and incinerators, the plastic can release highly toxic chemicals called dioxins. Worse, when plastic gets hot, it can leach chemicals into your food! The best thing to do is to find an alternative: aluminum foil (which is still disposable), reusable glass or metal containers, or beeswax wraps.

Beeswax wraps are simply reusable coated cloth wraps for keeping food items fresh. I discovered them about 3 years ago, and I was immediately excited by the prospect of eliminating disposable plastic wrap! I bought some Abeego brand wraps and have been a convert ever since. They are completely zero waste, they preserve food, and are free from toxic ingredients. Here’s a short video from that company about how to use them:

I believe Abeego was one of the earliest online stores to sell beeswax wraps, and this is exhibited in their quality. There are many other companies and many Etsy shops that make these now, so you have lots of choices. They are a little expensive on the front end, but they last at least a year or longer, and you save money by not buying disposable plastic wrap. And they are compostable at the end of their life, unlike plastic wrap.

Are beeswax wraps DIY-worthy?

Many people ask if they can save money by making their own. I’ve found that it depends on your results. I have invested a lot of my own time and money on DIY wraps and found that they lack the same pliability and texture that I liked from the ones I purchased. That said, there are thousands of DIY recipes and methods for making beeswax wraps on your own. I’ve tried several of them and here’s how I did it.

Fabric

This was the most fun part for me! I love choosing fabric. For this project, I chose to use medium and large scraps that I already had on hand instead of buying new fabric. Make sure you wash the fabric first so that you are starting with clean fabric. Then I measured and cut squares in various sizes with pinking shears.

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Ingredients

It is difficult to get the right concoction of ingredients. Abeego’s wraps are made with a formulation of beeswax, tree resin, and jojoba oil. Their wraps are smooth, adhere well, and smell good. I first made these using beeswax only, and they came out ok. I thought I could improve them by mixing beeswax with pine tree resin and jojoba oil, according to the online instructions I was following. The resin did not spread evenly despite my best efforts and clumped in certain spots. This made the wraps crusty and difficult to use. The ones I made with beeswax only came out better, so on my third trial, I went back to beeswax only. Again, they’re ok and functional, but not the same quality as the purchased versions.

I recently discovered that some companies, such as SuperBee by BeeConscious Company, sell DIY kits with their proprietary formula premixed into a bar for you to make wraps with your own fabric at home. This would save the struggle of trying to calculate the measurements just right. What a cool idea!

Beeswax bar and knife on cutting board
You can buy beeswax pellets or grate your own from beeswax bars. I have done both and found grating the bars to be less expensive. But it ruined my grater. Instead, you can chop up the beeswax bar into little pieces and it seems to work just as well.
Chopped beeswax pieces on a beeswax wrap
Chopped beeswax pieces on a beeswax wrap.

Method

I read quite a few online posts about how to make these and found three general methods, of which I’ve tried two. They are:

      • Oven
      • Flat iron
      • Hand dip

The easiest and my favorite method is to place the fabric on a flat cookie sheet and sprinkle the ingredients on the fabric, then put it into the oven at 200-225 degrees (F) for 3-6 minutes. Be prepared to use an old or second-hand cookie sheet, as it is difficult to get all of the beeswax off after.

For the ironing method, lay wax paper* under the fabric on an ironing board, sprinkle the ingredients on the fabric, then lay wax paper on top. Next, iron on a low setting. This method is effective too but more time-consuming than using the oven. The last way involves melting the ingredients in a double boiler and dipping the fabric into it. This is the one I didn’t try because I anticipated the mess I would make.

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Overall, my wraps are functional and I use them all the time in combination with my Abeego wraps. I’ve spent many hours trying to perfect these, and have not achieved the perfect wrap. I am also unable to make any larger than my cookie sheet, so I would have to purchase them if I want extra-large sizes. After lots of trial and error, I think purchasing works best for me. But you may have better results, so don’t let me dissuade you!

Set of homemade beeswax wraps
Set of my own beeswax wraps

Caring for beeswax wraps

They are very simple to care for whether homemade or purchased! You wash them with mild dish soap and rinse in cool water. I bought a small, square, metal drying rack that hangs above my kitchen sink. I wash, rinse, and hang them on a clip to air dry! Of course, if you buy them, check the recommended care on the package first.

Drying rack for hang drying beeswax wraps

You will know when it is time to cycle out your old wraps, as they will appear dingy or stained. But if you have a few that haven’t been used as frequently, but seem less pliable or sticky than before, you can restore the wraps. I simply spread a small amount of beeswax over the existing wraps and place it in the oven for 2-3 minutes at 200-225 degrees (F).

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SuperBee features a video to restore wraps as well, only without using additional beeswax. They simply put the wrap in a toaster oven to remelt the wax so it spreads back out:

Goodbye, Plastic Wrap 

Beeswax wraps are a superior food storage solution. They are a great replacement for plastic wraps, plastic Ziploc bags, and plastic food containers. Whether you purchase beeswax wraps or make them, the fact that you are open to getting rid of plastic in your life is awesome and potentially life-changing. If you decide to make them, I encourage you to find quality instructions online to make your own. And if you perfect your method, be sure to comment below and tell me about it!

Thanks for reading, and please subscribe!

 

*Note: Most wax paper sold today is not actually coated in wax, they are coated with a thin layer of paraffin, which is petroleum-based (plastic-related). In this post, the wax paper I used was a brand called If You Care and sells healthier and environmentally friendly kitchen products. Their wax paper is coated with soybean wax and I put it in the compost when I’m done with it. I bought it at Whole Foods but you can find it online as well.

If You Care Waxed paper
Photo by If You Care

 

Additional Resource:

Article: “The sticky problem of plastic wrap,” National Geographic, July 12, 2019.

This post does not contain affiliate links nor did I get paid to promote the products in this post. All photos by me unless otherwise noted.

DIY & Zero Waste Gift Wrapping (for All Occasions!)

Last updated on January 16, 2021.

Christmas wrapping paper and ribbon
Image by tookapic from Pixabay

Americans spend an estimated 3 to 7 billion dollars annually on wrapping paper. We buy wrapping paper, something we are intentionally going to throw away. We are paying for stuff that’s going to go into the trash!

Maybe it’s time we reallocated those funds.

Wrapping paper and gift wrap often come wrapped itself in plastic film, which is not recyclable. We use the paper once to wrap gifts and then we throw it away. Some wrapping paper has a plastic coating, making it non-recyclable. On top of that, the plastic tape we use on gifts makes the paper unrecyclable (because of “contamination”) in most municipalities.

What can you do?

There are so many things you can do to make a difference in the amount of waste we produce, and often even save money. Here are just a few ideas:

      • Use the alternative methods in this post for gift wrapping.
      • Reduce the overall number of gifts you give – think minimalism!
      • Gift e-gifts! Think ebooks, e-audiobooks, music: gift subscriptions to Audible, Kindle Unlimited, Spotify, a video game, or any other similar online subscription.
      • Gifts for experiences – tickets to the movies, theater, ballet, climbing gym, museums, or the spa! What would the person you’re gifting really like?
      • See my Black Friday post for additional ideas.

There are so many alternatives! But first things first…

Let’s talk about tape

Stop buying “Scotch” or plastic tape. I know this seems crazy, but if you want to reduce waste and plastic pollution, plastic tape has got to go. I recommend gummed paper tape, which I first learned about from the blog, My Plastic Free Life. The tape is water-activated and is super sticky with just a tiny amount of moisture. I cut out small strips of the paper tape, apply a tiny bit of water with a paintbrush and let it get gummy, and then apply the tape.

Paper tape roll, scissors, water cup, and paintbrush
Supplies: Paper tape roll, scissors, water cup, and paintbrush.
Cut strips of paper tape
Cut out strips of paper tape.
Paintbrush to brush water on paper tape
Use the paintbrush to brush on a tiny amount of water. You don’t need much to make it adhere.

It’s not the most attractive tape, but if the gift wrap is going to be trashed or recycled after the gift is opened, who cares? People you are giving gifts to probably know you well enough to understand that you’re an eco-warrior. Be proud. And if you are worried about it, you could decorate the tape.

This is the paper tape* I use, but you can find it at local office supply stores and on Amazon. Just steer clear of the types that are “reinforced” because they contain fiberglass filaments, which are plastic fibers. This defeats the purpose of using paper tape to be eco-friendly.

Use up gift wrap that’s already in your house

If you’ve got wrapping paper you’ve already purchased, please use that up and don’t waste it. You can glue small scraps together to make a larger piece in order to waste even less.

Large piece of wrapping paper made from scraps.
Large piece of wrapping paper made from scraps.
A second gift I wrapped from the same large piece.
A second gift I wrapped from the same large piece. This one used leftover plastic ribbon and a leftover store-bought gift tag. I have used these up and no longer purchase plastic ribbon or gift tags.

Eliminate plastic bows and ribbon

Bows sold at regular stores are usually made of plastic. Even if you reuse them for several years, they eventually must be thrown away. Stop buying these and look for alternatives online or make your own. Cycle out the plastic ribbon in your home as well, switch to a cloth (not polyester, because that’s plastic too) ribbon, or just use pretty string or twine. You can also make some out of fabric or old t-shirts! Ideas abound online!

Silver and blue gift bows.
Plastic bows: pretty but bad for the environment. Photo by DiEtte Henderson on Unsplash

Eliminate store-bought gift tags

Gift tags are often stickers or plastic-coated paper, and sometimes have a plastic band or ribbon to attach it with. You can make your own tags out of regular paper or leftover gift wrap which can be recycled.

You can also write directly on the gift with a marker. This is what I’ve switched to most recently, and it actually saves me time and work. Here’s one I did recently, using leftover wrapping paper and a plastic bow that I’ve been reusing for several years (I haven’t cycled all of those out yet):

Gift with handwriting on the paper in place of a gift tag, with a red bow.

Gift bags

Gift bags are often plastic-coated paper, so I don’t recommend buying these. They are reusable, but they do have an end life and aren’t recyclable. Cycle these out and don’t purchase more.

Switch to uncoated paper gift bags. If they are plain, you can decorate them! In fact, one zero-waster recommended using regular shopping bags and decorating it by placing a used greeting card over the logo but you could glue any pretty picture over it, from an old magazine or calendar. You could also place a photograph over the logo and let that be part of the gift (grandparents would love a photo of their grandchildren, for example).

Alternatives to buying wrapping paper

Furoshiki (Fabric)

Two furoshiki wrapped gifts
Image by Weekend Knitter on Flickr. Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Furoshiki, a Japanese tradition of wrapping items in cloth for carrying and gift-giving. Often the fabric is meant to be reused for other purposes. This is an eco-friendly and gorgeous way to wrap gifts and it’s the one I primarily use now. I love pretty fabrics, and even though I’m striving for minimalism, I always have a box or two of fabric in the house. What a beautiful way to give gifts! Here are three I’ve done:

Fabric wrapped gift, pink satin

Fabric wrapped gift, red leopard print

Fabric wrapping is also good for odd-shaped or sized items, such as this one:

Tube shaped gift in fabric, red leopard print

It’s easy to learn but it does take practice. I’ve linked a few other helpful resources below under Additional Resources. You can buy fabric remnants at fabric and craft stores for small pieces. Some companies offer unique innovations related to fabric wrapping. For example, Lush Cosmetics sells Knot-Wraps, their version of Furoshiki but they are meant to be used again as a scarf or tote – so it’s like giving two gifts. They are made of either organic cotton or two recycled plastic bottles, and the wraps are gorgeous!

Homemade wrapping paper

I’ve made wrapping paper from many different things! This takes some time but it’s easy and allows for creativity.

Magazines:

This is one of my favorite ways to upcycle old magazines! I glued random magazine pages together to make large sheets. After wrapping, I let my son decorate the package. Please note, this is also before I switched to the paper tape, so you’ll see Scotch tape on the gift as well as a plastic bow I reused:

I collected a few old art magazines to make wrapping paper. The next two images show one of the large sheets I made, and the images below those show wrapped packages using that paper.

The brown paper tape is hardly noticeable on these packages.

Another publication I used was High Five magazine, a popular children’s magazine. We had several years’ worth so I just grabbed one older edition and tore out the colorful pages. You can see in the following images how I glued individual pages together until I had one large sheet:

Here’s a gift I wrapped:

Child art:

This is another favorite, especially for gifts to family members. You can glue pieces of child art together and make a large sheet, just like you would with magazine pages. It makes this wrapping paper truly one-of-a-kind! Grandparents will be delighted with original pieces of artwork wrapped around the gift you’ve chosen for them.

You can even just use one coloring book page to wrap small gifts. Here’s one I wrapped last Christmas with a single sheet (but with plastic ribbon and a gift tag I still had leftover):

Reclaimed books:

You can use pages from old books to make wrapping paper – children’s books, photography books, or just plain pages of text from books. You can find cheap books at any thrift or second-hand store. Many used bookstores, such as McKay’s here in Tennessee, have a “free” bin of unwanted books. These are items that were not accepted by the store but that people did not want back. I have not personally tried this method but think it would be really cool. What a great way to honor these books and upcycle!

books on table
Photo by Min An from Pexels

Toilet paper wrap:

Toilet paper rolls from Who Gives A Crap
Toilet paper rolls from Who Gives A Crap

You can use the decorative paper from toilet paper rolls from Who Gives A Crap toilet paperhis eco-friendly company makes recycled and bamboo toilet paper and gives 50% of their profits to help build toilets in places where there are none. I’ve been using this toilet paper since writing my post about toilet paper in 2018. The paper wrappers on these rolls can be used as gift wrap and the company even makes a special holiday edition.

This has become a regular method in my home. You can place stickers or pretty pictures over the logo if you want to cover it up. Here are images of the large sheet of wrapping paper I made and the wrapped gift:

Newspapers or Brown paper

Newspapers or Comics:

You can use the old-fashioned method of using newspapers. This is what many of our grandparents did.

Brown paper:

Cut brown paper from grocery store paper bags or leftover builder’s paper into the size you need and wrap away! Once you’re done, you can color it or paint it with your favorite medium. You can ask your child to help too!

Thank you for reading!

I hope this helps you reduce waste year-round! If you have other ideas about DIY wrapping paper or reducing gift wrapping waste, please leave me a comment below – and don’t forget to subscribe!

 

Additional Resources:

Article, “Furoshiki: Japanese Gift Wrapping,” Marie Kondo (KonMari), accessed January 16, 2021.

Article, “How to: Furoshiki (Japanese fabric wrapping),” One Million Women, December 22, 2015.

Article, “Think Outside the (Gift)box: 3 Ways to Wrap Gifts With Fabric,” Craftsy.com, accessed December 23, 2020.

Wrapping with Fabric: Your Complete Guide to Furoshiki - The Japanese Art of Wrapping book coverBook, Wrapping with Fabric: Your Complete Guide to Furoshiki – The Japanese Art of Wrapping, by Etsuko Yamada, 2014.

 

 

 

 

All photos in this post were taken by me unless otherwise credited.
* This is the only affiliate link in this post. Earnings help support the costs of running this blog.

Footnotes:

What do you do with all that beautiful child art? A minimalist approach.

Is your child a budding artist? Does he or she create more pieces than you can keep up with?

My son, who is now almost 6, is un petit artiste and makes A LOT of art! He has been creating art since he was under 2, and I am guilty of saving almost all of it. I did not realize how quickly it would all accumulate. And if you’re a mom, you’ll understand when I say I think that all my child’s art is beautiful!

Painting by my son at age 3.
Scan of a painting by my son at age two.

Do you have tons of art that you think is lovely and you can’t let go of? That’s perfectly normal, so don’t feel bad about it. But what do you do with all of that art – especially if you’re trying to reduce clutter or even striving for minimalism?

If you search Google or Pinterest you will find many really great ideas! I was inspired by other bloggers and people searching for a solution to the same problem. Marie Kondo would say I should keep only the pieces that spark joy. I was also inspired by The Minimalists, who recommend scanning your photos and documents and letting go of the hard copies – so why not child art as well? I opted to scan and photograph the majority of my son’s art and make a Shutterfly photo book – and it came out beautiful!

So how did I do it? I managed to do it while working full time, after bedtime. I’ll explain my process next.

Thanksgiving turkey sculpture made by my son at age 3.
Photo of a Thanksgiving turkey sculpture made by my son at age three.

Organizing

First I had to organize everything. The art pieces accumulated quickly over just a few years and I had stored it all in three bins. Over the years, I had managed to write information on the backs of most the art pieces, such as the date (or approximate date) and what my son said about the piece or titled it. I did this because when my son was just 2 or so, a colleague told me that she wrote on the backs of art pieces from her kids and how glad she did that now that she was a grandmother. That was great advice!

So for several nights this past March, I sorted the art by year. Next, I sorted the stacks into the months of each year, in order. As I sorted, I selected my very favorite pieces – the ones that spark joy! – and set those aside, as I plan to put those together in a scrapbook later this summer.

Stack of sorted art pieces.
Stack of sorted art pieces.

Digitizing

Once I had everything organized, I started photographing and scanning the art, working on just a month’s worth at a time. I have an Epson scanner and I scanned all of the art pieces I could. Some of the art was larger than the scanning bed, and other pieces were three-dimensional. For those, I set up a basic background using a folded black poster board on a table next to a lamp with two light sources. I simply set up each piece in the best light I could and photographed those pieces used my iPhone on the HDR setting.

"Foil fish" art piece that my son and I made together.
“Foil fish” that my son and I made together.

Making the Photo Book

I put the images into folders divided by year and as I went through each month, I uploaded them into Shutterfly and designed my photo book. You can use any online photo service, I just already had an account with Shutterfly. I do recommend a larger sized photo book. I chose 12 x 12 which is the same size as a standard scrapbook, and I’m super happy with it.

Cover of the photo book with rainbow heart background.
Cover of the photo book, featuring a photo of my son painting. I removed his name and pixelated his face for privacy. The backside is a similar background with additional photos of my son working on various art projects.
Interior page of the photo book.
Interior pages of the photo book.

Most online photo services offer a large variety of backgrounds, colorful embellishments, fonts, layouts, and many other design options included in the price. This book ended up being about 90 pages. I also opted for the hardcover version with the lay-flat option, both of which cost slightly more. After applying a few coupon codes at the end, this book still cost quite a bit, almost $75. Without the coupons, the retail price would have been $200.

However, it probably would have cost me almost as much to buy a scrapbook, scrapbook paper, stickers, and other embellishments to go along with it. And for me, it was just as fun as scrapbooking and completely worth the money. I will cherish this book forever.

What will I do with the art pieces now?

Since I’m going to let them go, I’m of course going to separate out all of the recyclables (mostly paper) and recycle it. Some of the non-recyclables (beads, buttons, pipe cleaners) can be put back into our art supplies. This feels wrong until I think about it. I’ve now made my son’s art organized and accessible. The art book is so easy to pull out and look through, whereas the art in storage bins was not.

Strict minimalism would probably suggest to just toss everything, keep the memory of the art, and save the money. But if you’re like me and feel that your child’s art is just too dear to part with, you might find this a good compromise.

I am currently working on a second book because this book only went up through 2017. I’m enjoying putting it together, even though it’s round 2!

I hope this post inspires you to do something fun and creative with your child’s art! Please subscribe and leave me a comment below about your project!

 

All photos in this post were taken by me. This post contains no affiliate links, nor was I paid to review Shutterfly.

Homeschool Pre-K Lesson on Pollution & Environment

In 2015, I began doing homeschool pre-k lessons with my son. I would put together little thematic lesson plans that we would do together one morning per week. Each lesson would usually incorporate art activities, sensory activities, books related to the topic, a play activity, and writing. I mixed these up with the occasional music component, educational video, trip to a related museum, or nature adventure.

In late 2016, I decided to broach the topic of environmental issues and pollution. Even though he was only 3, I thought my son would get something out of it, and in retrospect, he did! So I thought I’d share some of the activities we did. Feel free to use or share any of these ideas!

Oil Spills

My son still recalls the activity where we put toy animals into blue water polluted by an oil spill. I was inspired by Almost Unschoolers which I found through Pinterest. They used feathers in their experiment, which I did as well as adding toy animals. Both showed how oil spilled in the water stayed on the animals. Here’s what we did:

We started with plain blue water to represent the ocean.

We started with plain blue water to represent the ocean. I used Sargent watercolor magic to dye the water but you can use blue food coloring too. Definitely place a towel under your container – it’s going to be messy and oily!

Next, I mixed cocoa powder with vegetable oil, as recommended by Almost Unschoolers. We started with feathers but then I quickly realized that he’d love playing with his toy animals even more.

My son experimenting with toy animals in the "oil spill."

We added a few more animals as we continued to play and experiment. He observed several times that the oil wouldn’t simply rinse off of the animals nor his hands.

My son experimenting with toy animals in the "oil spill."

My son experimenting with toy animals in the "oil spill."

My son experimenting with toy animals in the "oil spill."

My son had so much fun that he asked me to do it again several months later!

Recycling & Composting

Recycling sticker game from the Dollar Tree.I bought a sticker set from the Dollar Tree which included four disposal cans with stickers. The cans represented plastic, paper, aluminum, and compost. My son took the stickers and placed them on the appropriate can and he only needed a little help. It was a fun activity to do together! I also found a similar printable game here.

 

 

Pollution Jar

The last activity we did was to create a pollution jar. I got the idea from Pinterest but cannot credit the blog because it no longer exists. I asked my son to help me choose pieces of trash of various types of materials. We chose different types of plastics, papers, string, etc. We did not use any food waste.

Our pollution jar.

Then we filled the jar with tap water and put the lid on.

Our pollution jar.

We kept this jar for over a year. Over time the materials did not break down, especially the plastics. While that may be obvious to an adult, this was new and interesting information for a preschooler. He thought it was cool. I will say that when I disposed of it, the smell of chemicals from that jar was disturbing.

Other Ideas

We took a walk along the Tennessee River for that lesson as well, just to notice our surroundings. What sounds did we hear? What animals did we see? Did we notice any litter along the river? We talked about how the rivers and oceans are connected; that oceans are full of life; and that water and air are our most precious resources. Even if a young child doesn’t understand everything you’re explaining, know that they are absorbing some of it and admiring your knowledge.

Photo of my son at the Tennessee Aquarium.
We also managed a trip to the Tennessee Aquarium!

If you search “pollution lesson preschool” on Pinterest or Google, you’ll find a ton of additional great ideas!

I hope you can use some of these ideas with your little one. Feel free to ask questions or leave your own idea in the comments below! Thanks for reading, and please subscribe below!

All photos in this post were taken by me.