It's that time of year: Sharpen your pencils, break out your notebooks, and shoulder that backpack. We love the back-to-school season. While it's always bittersweet to say goodbye to summer's lazy days, each new school year brings with it the chance to start fresh. For children, the season signifies change and growth, bringing new teachers, new lessons, and new friends. And even if your school days are far behind you, the back-to-school season invites all of us to freshen up, recommit to goals, and enter the fall and winter with intention.
We're celebrating the back-to-school season with our our sandwich wrap two-pack, available for a limited time; this bundle of two wraps represents a nearly 25% savings. Having two sandwich wraps on hand makes perfect sense for packing lunches: You'll always have one ready for packing a meal, and can rinse and air-dry the other for tomorrow's meal.
Looking for inspiration? We're daydreaming about a week of Bee's Wrap lunches designed for whomever might be toting Bee's Wrap this season, from the picky palates to the adventurous eater. Read on for ways to fill your sandwich wraps this fall.
Monday: There's a place for PB&J in life, but whoever said sandwiches have to be boring? We're often inspired to cook more elaborate meals on leisurely Sundays, which means Monday can be a day for tasty leftovers. Here, we topped a slice of flatbread with leftover falafel, chopped veggies, pickled onions, and a sprinkling of fresh herbs and tzatziki for a Middle Eastern-inspired sandwich with bold, bright flavors.
Tuesday: Bagels and cream cheese are pantry staples, tasty on their own (and sure to please even picky eaters). If you're looking to up the ante, go crazy with add-ons. Here, we added cucumber, pickled onions, and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, as well as plenty of fresh cracked pepper.
Wednesday: It's time for wraps on wraps! Tortilla wraps are endlessly adaptable. We like to add thinly sliced veggies, lightly dressed greens, hummus, and cheese or lunch meats to our wraps. When bits and bites inevitably spill over, our sandwich wrap acts as a placemat for meals at your desk or cafeteria table.
Thursday: By late in the week, packed schedules means packing lunch can be a headache. Enter the snack meal: veggies, hummus, crackers, and a little bit of whatever might be in the pantry. (Luckily, by storing carrots, celery, and peppers in Bee's Wrap in our fridge, we keep our veggies fresh all week long.) We aim for a mix of textures and colors, and if we're feeling fancy we might doctor our hummus with smoked paprika and olive oil. But honestly, this is the time to simplify.
Friday: Everyone — kids and grown-ups alike — needs a treat every now and then, and there's no harm in having a little fun with lunch. Marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and bananas meet for a crowd-pleasing lunch that's simultaneously decadent and dead simple. We're fans of all things in moderation, and what better day than Friday to indulge in something sweet and a little playful?
Whatever you pack for lunch this fall, we hope Bee's Wrap makes it easier to store your food simply and sustainably, at home and on the go.
We've long been fans of Plastic Free July at Bee's Wrap, and this year our team decided to embrace the challenge. For the last week of the month, we encouraged our team members to pledge to reduce single-use plastics. In total, thirteen Bee's Wrap employees jumped in. Our goals ranged in ambition and scope, from refusing plastic straws to buying more bulk groceries to carrying reusable water bottles, and more. What we shared was a common desire to pay more attention to the plastic in our daily lives, and look for places where we could improve.
What did we learn along the way? A lot.
Sometimes there's a cost to refusing plastic. But maybe it comes out in the wash?
At our local food co-op, Katie (press and communications) opted for a half-gallon of organic milk in a reusable glass container; this container can be redeemed for a deposit at the store, sent back to the creamery, and reused. But that half-gallon of milk is more expensive than the organic alternative in a plastic jug. Jess (marketing associate) ran into the same quandary when, craving a cool beverage, she chose kombucha in a glass jar over a flavored seltzer in plastic. Sometimes going plastic free simply costs more.
But we also realized that choosing to refuse single-use items made us more thoughtful about our consumption overall. It was easier to resist an impulse purchase at a gas station. Many of us packed our lunches more regularly, saving money (and waste) from take-out options. While we didn't do a rigorous accounting of the costs and savings associated with refusing single-use plastics, we had a hunch that it all balanced out in the end.
A little bit of preparation goes a long way.
Refusing single-use plastics does require some forethought, and keeping the right tools handy goes a long way toward making habit shifts. Katie was traveling last week; with an early morning flight ahead of her, she packed breakfast in a sandwich wrap and carried an empty reusable coffee cup through security. Jess carried bamboo utensils on an outing to the farmers' market, and was able to refuse the plastic fork offered for her lunch on the go. Abbey (office admin) is now on the hunt for the perfect stainless steel box so she can ask for leftovers at restaurants to be packed up in a reusable container.
Plastic really is everywhere.
Grocery shopping was perhaps the biggest challenge. We packed our reusable shopping bags. Jess shopped the bulk section, using glass jars to store her pantry staples. Even so, plastic was hard to avoid entirely. It was surrounding each block of cheese in the dairy section, each bundle of fresh herbs in the produce section, and hidden inside cereal boxes. John (sales and marketing) noted that plastic often cropped up in unexpected places — like the farmers' market, where he was surprised to realize how ubiquitous plastic bags could be.
Other businesses are making thoughtful choices about plastic.
Just as Plastic Free July made us notice how much plastic is out there to avoid, it also made us appreciate the businesses around us that are trying to curb our culture's plastic addiction. A local ice cream stand uses compostable dishes, cups, spoons, and napkins. A coffee shop incentivizes customers to bring their own mugs by discounting a cup of coffee. At one local grocery store, there's no need to choose "paper or plastic?" if you forget your reusable bags — they only stock paper, and keep cast off cardboard boxes on hand for grocery toting.
We have to speak up.
It can be hard to go against the grain and ask for special treatment. Sometimes it means chasing down a barista who reaches for a disposable cup before you offer up your reusable one, or asking the person behind the deli counter to wrap a sandwich in Bee's Wrap (as Sarah, our founder, did last week). We had conversations with our servers, the employees in our local grocery stores, and our friends and families. In the end, these were all conversations worth having.
We're not perfect. But we are trying to do better.
In taking note of the plastics in our daily lives, we also started noticing them in the world around us. Kat, one of our sales representatives, spent part of July on vacation at the beach — where she found balloons and straws and even a basketball washed up on shore during walks.
"I went down to the river last weekend and was so bummed to see so much trash: an empty chip bag, cigarette butts, soda caps, a dirty sandwich baggie, a lone plastic floatie," said Jess. "It's surprising to me that people can be so careless with such a beautiful place."
This is the kind of revelation that drives us. So, too, does the camaraderie of tackling this challenge together. Plastic Free July might be over, but we'll be choosing to reuse as much as we can — saying no to the plastic straw, carrying our reusable totes, and packing a sandwich in Bee's Wrap. We hope you'll join us.
When Celia Ristow started publicly blogging, writing, and talking about the zero-waste movement, she felt a lot of pressure to do things perfectly — to fit her annual trash into a tiny jar, to overhaul every waste-generating part of her life.
"As a public figure in zero waste, I felt like I needed to do it perfectly," said Ristow, who runs the blog Litterless and founded the nonprofit Zero Waste Chicago. "What I found when I was trying to do it perfectly was that it was exhausting."
Today, Ristow takes a different approach to zero waste living — one that recognizes the urgency of curbing pollution and waste, but also extends grace to herself and to those eager to make big changes. Zero waste, she said, isn't about eliminating one's garbage altogether. It's about being conscious of what you're purchasing and throwing away, and making an effort to reduce where you can.
"It's not all or nothing," she said. "Stressing out about doing it perfectly and fitting your trash in the jar — I don’t think it’s ultimately the way to make this shift for life."
This month marks Plastic Free July, a global movement to refuse single-use plastics and reduce plastic pollution. We spoke to Ristow a few weeks ago about her zero waste lifestyle (she uses the term "zero waste" as a default, because it's widely accepted, but prefers thinking about "zero-ish" or "low" waste) to gain some inspiration and useful tips about reducing waste.
Ristow was in college when she first learned about the concept of zero waste living. In many ways, she notes, choosing zero waste relies on leveraging one's purchasing power. When she left the dorms and set out on her adult life, she resolved that as she set up some of her daily routines — cleaning her house, and cooking her own meals — she'd make them zero waste.
She'd grown up with a backyard compost bin, and upon moving to Chicago, she did some Googling and signed up for a city service. It was as easy as sending an email, she said, and soon she wasn't adding food scraps to her garbage anymore. She purchased a few reusable produce bags and swapped out plastic bags at the grocery store. For those resolving to reduce waste in their daily lives, Ristow says, the kitchen is an easy place to start: "So much of what we consume is in our kitchen," she said, "with a weekly if not daily influx of goods."
Other routines can be harder to retrofit for a zero waste lifestyle. Take beauty routines. "They're so personal, and we invest so much time in making them work for us," said Ristow. "Suddenly it's not just about natural ingredients and efficacy, but also about packaging."
Today, she tries to be gentle with herself, and honest with her readers, about where she succeeds and where she fails. "When I get a chance to start the conversation, the thing I talk about is, 'zero' for me is more of a stand in, it’s not really the actual goal," said Ristow. "I want people to know that they're welcome at any level."
So, perhaps that means starting with carrying a tote bag to the grocery store. A month later, start carrying a water bottle. "That's participating, and that's worthy of celebrating," said Ristow.
New to zero-ish waste living? Ristow has some suggestions. Start with the low-hanging fruit. We're tickled she counts Bee's Wrap in that camp. "It's very easy to do something like commit to using Bee's Wrap," she said. "I didn't have to be convinced."
Other easy swaps? Use bar soap instead of liquid soap that comes in a plastic container. Get creative with reusable containers. (Ristow wraps her bread in Bee's Wrap, then stores it in her dutch oven when it's not in use.)
Ristow's been cheered to see the zero waste movement grow and take root in the culture in the last four years. Suddenly she's seeing companies market to this community, and a greater diversity of people express interest. In Chicago, she holds monthly meet-ups — free spaces where people can have coffee or sit in the park and share zero-waste tips. She's also started hosting workshops introducing people to zero-waste living tips or composting.
"I think at its heart, zero waste is about giving people the tools to harness every decision they make to reflect the world they want to live in," she said. "If we're going to solve climate change, if we're going to reverse our plastic pollution problem, we need to get everyone in here, and not everyone is going to participate at the same level."
Her goal? Make it clear that all are welcome. That all choices matter. And that every little bit helps.
We're making it a little easier to reduce your waste with our Plastic Free July giveaway! Through July 11, enter here for your chance to win Bee's Wrap, reusable totes, a zero waste utensil set, and more!
In 2017 we began working with The Bee Cause, a national nonprofit that places beehives in schools throughout the country. We love bees, and recognize that pollinators play a critical role in our environment. We wanted to spread the word about these incredible and important pollinators, and The Bee Cause made perfect sense to support.
The Bee Cause provides young people with opportunities to understand, engage, and learn from honey bees — connecting with the natural environment and fostering important STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) skills in the process. This week, as we celebrate National Pollinator Week, we’ve decided to donate 5 percent of all sales to The Bee Cause. This applies to orders made from June 18 through June 22. This donation will allow us to sponsor the installation of a beehive for one New England school that’s been on The Bee Cause’s waitlist.
Our first Bee Cause-sponsored hive went into a middle school in Ripton, Vt., last year, and we followed up with a hive donation to an elementary school in Cornwall, Vt., this spring. Last month we headed to Cornwall’s Bingham Memorial School — an elementary school about a half hour away from Bee’s Wrap HQ — to watch Principal Jen Kravitz move a “nuc” — the nucleus containing a queen bee and her attendants — into their new home.
Cornwall second and third graders watched from a safe distance as Principal Kravitz removed the nuc — five healthy frames containing the bees — and placed the nuc into the house. “It’s a tenuous but exciting moment for a new hive,” explained Kat Clear, our Bee’s Wrap sales representative and resident beekeeper. “Once the queen is safely in place in her colony, the hive can grow and proliferate.”
“It’s like moving from an apartment to a four-bedroom house,” said Kat. “You really need to get them into their new mansion and say, ‘Have fun, put a rug down where you want.’”
The students got a chance to handle some of Kravitz’s hive tools, like her bee brush and smoker. They’d also spent the weeks leading up to the hive’s installation learning about bees and pollination, building flowers out of pipe cleaners and talking about the transfer of pollen. This is the kind of hands-on learning that moves from the classroom into the great outdoors that The Bee Cause hopes to foster, and that we’re so glad to support.
We’re particularly excited to see children embrace bees, recognizing the vital role that bees and other pollinators play in our natural environment; we hope that by instilling a love of pollinators in our youngest neighbors, we can protect this vital — but vulnerable — group for decades to come.
It's early spring at Blue Ledge Farm in Salisbury, Vermont. There's cheese to be made, goats to be tended — and if the day allows for it, sunshine to be savored. With spring finally here, everyone at Blue Ledge, the farmers and the goats alike, are grateful for the shift in seasons.
Hannah Sessions and Greg Bernhardt met while studying abroad in Florence; fresh out of college, the then 23-year-olds shared a dream to raise goats and make cheese. They bought an old dairy barn in Vermont's rural Champlain Valley, converted a barn that once held Holstein cows into a home for a herd of Alpine and LaMancha goats, and began making fresh chèvre.
Partners in business and life, Greg and Hannah tag-team on the farm: She manages the goats (they milk about 125 at any given time), he the cheese (11 varieties in total). They're both visual artists as well, painters who exhibit in Vermont galleries and beyond.
Farmers like Hannah and Greg embody the kind of care for food, animals, and the land that inspires us. Their 150-acre farm is conserved with the Vermont Land Trust, which means the land will never be developed; the farm also uses a biomass furnace to heat the farmhouse, cheese house, and barn, and solar panels provide much of the farm's electricity.
Meanwhile, the goats spend three seasons grazing on pasture and in the woods before bedding down at night in the barn. The goats' manure is composted, then applied to the fields, completing the nutrient cycle from grass to goat to grass again.
These are farmers who care for their animals, for the land, and for making good food. (If you have a chance to snap up a piece of Blue Ledge Farm cheese, we highly recommend it.)
We live in a place where our food is close at hand — where we pass farm stands and freshly planted fields on the way to work, where we know the people who raise our meat and eggs and, in the case of Blue Ledge Farm, our cheese. We began making Bee's Wrap with a simple premise: Good food deserves good care. When you care about the food you consume — where and how it's grown, who makes it, and how it's prepared — you begin to care about everything that touches it.
Our hometown is Bristol, Vermont, nestled in the Green Mountains. Our downtown has one stoplight and about a block of storefronts. Small town life is, by definition, small — but it can also be vibrant and surprising, just as full of unfamiliar flavors as it is familiar faces. And one of our favorite places in downtown Bristol to experience that kind of vibrancy is Tandem, the downtown storefront that Jess Messer and Lauren Gammon transformed into a pop-up events venue and commercial kitchen in 2015.
In the three years since its opening, Tandem has become a gathering space in our little town, a place for cozy brunches and inventive dinners, a home for a summertime night markets and holiday pop-ups. It's where Jess and Lauren foster their own businesses, and help support those of other chefs and makers.
Perhaps most of all, it’s a place that celebrates food — the farmers that grow it, the hands that prepare it, the eaters who consume it. This love of good food is what connects Lauren and Jess, the thread that runs through their friendship of nearly 20 years. “We joke that yuzu cemented our friendship,” says Jess.
Jess started her business — Savouré — in Montreal after her family moved to Canada in 2010; a former human rights researcher, Jess used Savouré as a way to connect with the farmers and culture of Quebec, crafting fermented veggies and pickles, jams, and handcrafted sodas. She brought the business with her when her family moved to Vermont. Her seasonal sodas are made from wild foods, herbs, and roots, or locally grown produce. She delights in putting local ingredients to use in surprising and inventive sodas, using the bounty from Vermont's farms, fields, and forests in sophisticated flavor combinations. When a hiker stumbled across wild plums on nearby Snake Mountain, the hiker brought a bushel to Jess at Tandem and asked, “Do you want to do something with them?” She did, of course.
When we tagged along for a morning of food prep at Tandem, Jess was concocting a brew of pink peppercorn and fresh rhubarb. Her sodas taste of the seasons in which they’re made — and this soda was the embodiment of spring.
Meanwhile, Lauren was busy prepping for an upcoming dinner, shaving spring asparagus and zucchini for one of her courses (read on for the recipe, below!).
For Lauren, food is a means of exploration. She caught the travel bug young, and after attending college in Vermont, spent years hoofing her way around the globe — seeking out street vendors and local food everywhere she visited. Today her catering business, Nomadic Chef Catering, focuses on farm-to-table cuisine that celebrates Vermont food, but pairs those roots with international or unexpected twists.
Tandem defies easy explanation. There aren’t any regularly posted hours, and the space doesn’t have a website. Jess and Lauren like it that way; they don’t want to be railroaded into one vision for the space, preferring flexibility and some spontaneity. Our Bee's Wrap team has dined here for our holiday dinners, shopped here during night markets that are part farmers' market, part street fair, and cozied up with a cup of coffee during mud season brunch pop-ups.
As we travel Bristol's Main Street every day, we're grateful for Jess and Lauren's creativity, their love of food, and their vision for what a community gathering space can be. It's part of what gives our small town such a big heart.
Shaved Asparagus with Smoked Trout
Recipe courtesy Lauren Gammon
Boil down two peeled potatoes, small onion, and two cloves of garlic in four cups of salted water.
In a high speed blend, combine cooked potato, onion, garlic, and broth with one fillet of smoked trout and ½ c. half and half; blend into a thick cream. Season with white pepper.
Meanwhile, shave asparagus and zucchini with a hand-held peeler for a ribbon-like effect. Toss vegetables with lemon juice, minced preserved lemon, garlic to taste, and EVOO. Salt to taste. Gently heat egg yolk over double boiler, making sure not to cook.
Serve fresh marinated asparagus and zucchini ribbons with 1/2 cup of trout cream on the side. Use the yolk to drizzle a zig-zag in the cream. Enjoy!
Plastic pollution is among the most dire environmental challenges of our time: It threatens to choke our oceans and contaminate our food and water. The facts and figures are sobering — and almost incomprehensible in scale.
A staggering 91 percent of plastic is never recycled, according to a report from National Geographic; half of all plastic produced becomes trash in less than a year. If present trends continue, Nat Geo reports, we'll see 12 billion metric tons of plastics in landfills by 2050 — an amount that's 35,000 times as heavy as the Empire State Building. Already, there is more microplastic in our oceans than there are stars in the Milky Way.
The first global survey of mass-produced plastics found that plastic pollution threatens a "near permanent contamination of the natural environment," and identifies packaging and the rise of single-use containers, wrapping, and bottles as responsible for driving the phenomenal growth in plastic production.
The effects are cropping up in our food, soil and water, and in remote corners of the world (like polluted Arctic beaches). Scientists estimate that we could have more plastic than fish, by weight, in the oceans by 2050 unless we radically rethink our relationship to this material.
Even amid dire news of plastic pollution, we're starting to see signs for hope. We're inspired by zero-waste activists championing new habits, and by cities and countries considering policies to stem the plastic tide. British scientists have noticed a decline in the number of plastic bags on the ocean floor that is correlated with fees for plastic bags at grocery stores. We have the power to change our relationship to this pervasive material. While plastics feel inescapable in our day-to-day lives, the truth is that this material is incredibly new to our planet. We can and should live differently.
Earth Day this year has taken a theme near and dear to our hearts: End Plastic Pollution. This motivates us in our work every day, and in our day-to-day lives as we try to cut out disposable, single-use plastics wherever we can. We hope that Bee's Wrap can help you make that shift, too, replacing plastic wrap and sandwich baggies with a natural alternative that's reusable and fully biodegradable.