It's fantastic that you're making a switch from plastic! There are many options in the market now, so here are our top 5 tips to help you make the best choice. Your wraps should be good for both your health and the health of the planet.
How safe are the materials that will touch your food?
Gold standard: Look for proof of food safety testing. This isn't a legal requirement, but some wraps makers have gone ahead and had their products independently tested and certified food safe. Products with this guarantee are authorised to use the 'glass and fork' symbol.
If your wraps aren't certified food safe, then make sure that the fabrics are OEKO-TEX 100 certified. That means they have passed stringent tests for dozens of harmful substances (like formaldehyde, lead, arsenic, pesticides, carcinogens, etc.) to ensure that the fabrics are in no way harmful to health.
Finally, make sure that all of the ingredients (which will be a mixture of beeswax or vegan wax, tree resin and oil) are 'safe for food' according to the Food & Drug Administration.
Beware the widespread misuse of the term "Hand Made"
Many well-known wraps suppliers say that their wraps are handmade when they are actually waxed on a machine and then (perhaps) cut to size by hand. It's also common for suppliers to get pre-cut squares of fabric in bulk (which have been cut using lazer-cut machines) and then wax them by hand.
How do you know if your wraps are really hand made?
- Don't rely on the marketing spin on websites. Ask the maker directly whether they use any waxing machines, or mixing machines or whether their fabric squares are pre-cut. If they do, then their wraps are not hand made.
- Check out the maker's Instagram posts. They often include clues in their videos, like showing a large roll of pre-waxed wraps that they are cutting or images of piles and piles of neatly stacked pre-cut fabric squares.
- If your wraps come in a 1 metre roll, they have to have been waxed on an industrial machine. It isn't possible to wax fabric squares that are bigger than about 30cm by hand (it would require a warm surface of 1m+ to keep the wax from solidifying in the process). We know because we've spent a year trying to do it. That's why we don't sell XXL bread wraps or rolls of beeswax wrap.
How eco-friendly are the labels?
It's about the inks and airmiles as well as recyclability.
Check whether your wraps maker uses a local printer (fewer airmiles than ordering packaging printed in China, for example), and whether that printer is eco-friendly. For example, some printers are 'zero-to-landfill', meaning that 100% of their production waste is reused or recycled.
Also, look for unbleached paper and vegetable-based inks.
How are your wraps sent to you?
It's fantastic if you can buy your wraps in real life - we love supporting our local high street! But if you order them online, then there's packaging and shipping to think about.
Many websites like Amazon tend to use couriers to ship orders. While this is fast, it's not the greenest option compared to the regular old post. According to www.whichev.net, the UK's Royal Mail has the lowest carbon footprint amongst delivery options. So if your wraps maker sends your order with Royal Mail, all the better!
And it goes without saying that plastic-free, recyclable packaging is best.
How green and fair is the production process?
Look for makers who use local suppliers (wax, oil, etc.) and green energy. Many makers are either on green tariffs or have solar panels (or both!) and their website will usually say so.
If the wraps are made with machines, ask the maker how those machines are powered. If they're imported from low-wage countries, it's best to be wary.
Hopefully this gives you a good idea about what to look for in your beeswax and vegan food wraps!
Feel free to reproduce any/all of this post. Please credit Honey Bee Good with a link to our website honeybeegood.co.uk