Here’s a spit-take worthy fact: about 2 million plastic bags are used every minute around the world. Considering only 9% of plastic has been recycled across the world, I realized it was time to break up with the Ziploc sandwich bags that had been a staple of my childhood, and now adulthood snacking. I recently got my hands on a Bees Wrap Assorted 3-pack to put me on my way towards a plastic-free lifestyle. The Assorted 3-pack comes with a small, medium, and large wrap for all your food storage needs— from a half a lemon to a loaf of bread. They’re also washable and last about a year with frequent use (just don’t wash them with hot water or the wax will melt). I was first impressed with the product’s recyclable and biodegradable packaging, but I wanted to know more about how this new goodie made it into my kitchen. This has been my most positive review of a product thus far for a number of reasons, including Bees Wrap’s responsible ingredient sourcing, treatment of its employees, and third-party credibility. However, I can't give Bees Wrap a perfect 3 planets because the company isn’t completely transparent about ingredient sourcing and could give the consumer more information regarding racial diversity in the workplace. If this acts as a barrier to your purchase, you could try making your own beeswax wrap as a fun DIY night activity! That being said, I will by no means be ditching my new Bees Wrap until it's worn out and ready to go into the compost.
As you could probably tell from the name, Bees Wrap is made with sustainably-sourced beeswax, with some not-so-obvious ingredients including cotton, jojoba oil and tree resin. The cotton used in Bees Wrap is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified. I’ve recently developed trust issues with certification schemes after discovering that Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was in hot water for bogus certifications in my PAPR deodorant review. Going into my investigation of GOTS certifications, I kept a skeptical eye out for any news of scandals or wrongdoing. I inevitably ran into one scandal involving 20,000 metric tonnes of Indian cotton that was wrongly certified as organic. Before ruling out the credibility of the certification, I gave GOTS the benefit of the doubt and decided to do a little more digging. I ended up finding out that GOTS investigators were the ones who discovered the fake organic cotton and instructed its approved certification bodies to cancel all upstream transaction certificates issued based on wrongly certified cotton. This is definitely a step up from the response of the FSC, who denied accusations and delayed investigations into its certification holes. Considering the organization’s accountability and swift action, I believe when they say their cotton is made without chlorine bleaches, heavy metal dyes, and finishers that contain suspected carcinogens or toxins. GOTS also has strict social criteria as well, like protecting workers' rights to collective bargaining, ensuring safe and hygienic working conditions, prohibiting children labor, and paying living wages, among other requirements. Bees Wrap also sources its bees wax from responsible keepers tending healthy hives. Considering rapidly disappearing bee populations, I thought that beeswax may be contributing to this decline. I found out, however, that Bees Wrap uses wax that comes from the cappings of the honeycomb, a byproduct of the honey extraction process. By cutting off the cappings and leaving the rest of the honeycomb intact, combs can remain healthy for decades. Bees Wrap beekeeper’s also keep their hives away from places like golf courses and non-organic farms to help prevent the accumulation of pesticides and herbicides in its wax as well as to protect bees from chemicals. Bees Wrap tends to focus less on vouching for its jojoba oil and tree resin. In general, jojoba oil is also considered a sustainable resource because it naturally grows in desert conditions and requires very little water compared to other high-water consuming crops like olives and almonds. Trees on the other hand vary in their ability to survive resin extraction, with excessive cutting often leading to infection or death. Careful extraction methods and smart management can allow resin tappers and traders to benefit from sustainable extraction. Overall, I would like to hear more information from the company about it’s other ingredients, but for now I’m very satisfied with Bees Wrap’s ingredients.
Bees Wrap manufacturing has taken a long journey from Vermont to... well, Vermont. Despite its significant growth, the company has decided to stick to its roots and keep production facilities in its state of origin. When Bees Wrap was founded in 2012, the company worked out of founder Sarah Kaeck’s basement. The first Bees Wraps were made with melted wax on a skillet in the Kaeck’s family home. Jojoba oil and tree resin were also mixed into the wax for it’s natural adhesive properties. However, hand coating the cotton strips with beeswax was not sustainable for the company’s growth. Kaeck explains in an interview with VermontBiz, “We pulled together resources. We had a local engineer. My father helped. The person who is my production manager now, helped. So did my assistant production manager. We all pooled ideas and worked on developing this piece of machinery that could wax whole rolls of fabric.” With this new machinery, the company expanded into a workshop in Bristol, Vermont, and then moved down the road to Middlebury, Vermont in 2018. Today, a team of more than 30 people work in a building powered by approximately 75% renewable energy. As for ingredient sourcing, I was able to find out that Bees Wrap gets its cotton from Indonesia and started out sourcing its beeswax from the U.S. only. Now, the company sources its beeswax from a variety of sustainable beekeepers around the world. I had to consult an interview with Kaeck to find out this sourcing information, but I bet Bees Wrap customers would like to know this information first-hand through the website. It would also be helpful to know where the company sources its jojoba oil and tree resin.
As I mentioned before, Bees Wrap started from humble beginnings in CEO and founder Sarah Kaeck’s basement. The company has now grown to sell its products in more than 3,000 stores in the U.S. and in 44 countries across Europe, Asia, and South America. Even with this boom in business, the company has remained true to its values and has plenty of third-party credibility to back this up. Since April 2019, Bees Wrap has been a certified B Corporation, adding to a collection of more than 2,700 companies across 67 countries that demonstrate the highest standards of overall social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Bees Wrap also made it onto the B Corp Best For The World 2019 list and was an honoree for the B Corp Best For Environment 2019 list. Part of the reason Bees Wrap made it onto these lists is because it partners with 1% for the Planet and the Rozalia Project, which supports ocean conservancy, beach cleanups, and water stewardship. It also supports The Bee Cause, a platform for educating children about the important connection between bees and healthy food systems. Bees Wrap’s strong corporate culture provides employees with abundant training, opportunities for growth within the company, job flexibility, and funding for professional development. In addition, the lowest paid hourly workers make more than 25% above the local minimum wage. Kaeck also believes that all her employees should have access to childcare, which is why Bees Wrap works with Let’s Grow Kids, a Vermont nonprofit working to ensure that every family has access to high quality childcare. Overall, Bees Wrap checks all the ‘who makes it’ boxes — except for one. Most of Bees Wrap’s workforce is made up of women, but I’d be interested in also hearing about the company’s racial diversity, a topic not explored in its owned media.