The holidays can be magical. But if you’re concerned about the amount of waste you generate in your day-to-day life, this time of year can also be overwhelming. Start looking, and plastic shows up in almost every modern holiday convention. It’s there in shopping bags you tote away from major retailers during a holiday sale. It’s in many of the toys we give our children and the gadgets we give loved ones. It covers the ready-made treats we can buy for holiday parties.
Setting aside plastic, there’s other waste to consider — the wrapping paper we tear open and toss, the gifts that collect dust in closets, the easy pull of giving more stuff when we simply don’t need more.
Looking to cut back on waste this holiday season? We turned to some of the Bee’s Wrap team — now nearly 40 people strong! — to ask for their tips and tricks. We’re sharing most of these anonymously, so as not to spoil the surprise for any intended gift recipients who might be snooping for clues.
“I’m making an effort to make thoughtful, handmade gifts instead of buying new gadgets, toys, or things that will be forgotten in a month,” said one of our hive. She’ll be making handmade Christmas ornaments from wine corks, twigs, and scraps of ribbon, and crocheting a blanket for her nephew.
“We are changing it up this season by giving our honey as gifts in reusable glass jars, instead of buying random gifts and gizmos,” said another. “Did I mention cookies? I make them every year — it’s a long standing tradition — and always deliver in a tin. With my cookies there is only one caveat: if you give back the tin, I will refill it for you next year.”
Cookies are popular on staff! “We (by ‘we’ I really mean my wife) actually make a lot of homemade treats — cookies, breads, candy, pies, and so on — to share with neighbors, friends and family instead of buying pre-packaged,” another colleague shared. Best of all? Those treats all head off to their new homes covered with Bee’s Wrap.
Getting Creative with the Trimmings
“We wrap our presents in fabric every year,” said Sarah, the Bee’s Wrap founder. “I have been thinking about using fabric that can be reused as a satchel for veggies or small items when out shopping or regifted, and including instructions.”
“I’m reusing wrapping paper, bows, and ribbons for last year and the years before,” another staff member shared. If you haven’t already started reusing wrapping supplies, make this the year to start, and choose a shoebox or cubby for stowing away supplies until next year. Another member of our team is planning to make her own wrapping paper, reusing brown paper bags.
Another idea? Use Bee's Wrap! Include a note explaining what Bee's Wrap is and how your gift recipient should use and care for it, and let the wrapping paper become part of the present.
“Mostly, I’m just giving less of everything. And because we’re buying fewer items, I’m trying to spend our gift budget with local or ethical companies using natural materials and fibers, even if those things might cost a little bit more,” suggested one member of our team.
Similarly, a few folks said they’re making more donations in honor of loved ones instead of giving physical gifts. Last year, one colleague gave her adult family members Kiva loan gift cards, giving each the chance to find projects to support with their individual donations.
Consider the Packaging
“Look for products in glass containers instead of plastic,” said one team member, “or better yet, buy beauty items in bulk or hand-make them.” Packaging is one of the worst offenders of single-use plastic and waste. (We’re proud that our packaging is 100% recycled paper and plastic-free!).
One of the best ways to curb waste is to opt for something gently used over buying new. “I’m shopping the thrift store. My toddler is obsessed with bags, purses, and dress up clothes, and what better place to find treasures?”
How will you cut down on waste this season?
If you’re still on the hunt for gift ideas, we’ll admit that we think Bee’s Wrap makes an excellent gift this holiday season. As versatile as it is beautiful, Bee’s Wrap is meant to be used and re-used. It’s a gift your friends and family will reach for long after the holidays end. And at the end of the wrap’s useful life in their kitchen, Bee’s Wrap is fully biodegradable — meaning this is a gift that won’t end up in a landfill or collecting dust in a cabinet. If Bee’s Wrap is right for someone on your list this season, shop online or find a stockist near you.
In late summer, the fields behind my home in Vermont are speckled with Queen Anne’s Lace, the white, lacy flower that has been a touchstone for me since my childhood. The flower is a sign of the season, tied to long, warm days and the impending arrival of fall. As a child, I believed the red spot in the flower’s center was a secret I knew that few others had spotted — something I peeked at on solo walks along the lake road and exploratory treks through fields that opened wide in front of me.
Childhood explorations are like this — full of mystery and wonder, imbued with adventure even when they only carry us through our own backyards.
To explore is to see the world around us with fresh eyes — both at home, and on adventures. To explore is to witness the intricate and interconnected dances that make our earth inhabitable. To explore: This is the inspiration for our new Monarch print, which we launched this fall with National Geographic.
We’re proud to partner with this storied institution on their multi-year “Planet or Plastic?” campaign, an effort to raise awareness of the global plastic pollution crisis and challenge individuals and companies alike to rethink their relationship with single-use plastics. When we set out to design the new print for this collaboration, I returned again and again to a few simple elements that hold personal and ecological significance: Queen Anne’s Lace, the Monarch butterfly, and rows of mountains in the distance begging to be traversed.
My own explorations have taken me around the world, but more often than not these days, my explorations take place in those fields behind my home, covered in snow in winter and dotted with Queen Anne’s Lace in late summer. I take our family Corgi, Pappy, out to the fields for a chance for both of us to stretch our legs.
I scan the fields for Monarch butterflies, a spot of brilliant orange against green. Just as Queen Anne’s Lace seemed like a secret treasure in my childhood, the story of the Monarch butterfly’s metamorphosis seemed nothing short of magic. Monarchs evolve from egg to larva, munching on milkweed before settling into their cocoons. When they emerge from that mysterious transformation, they’re butterflies on a mission — to pollinate the flowers of summer and then set out off a remarkable migration that spans thousands of miles to their winter breeding grounds. It was zoologist Fred Urquhart, a recipient of a National Geographic grant, who discovered that generations of the butterfly can travel as far as 3,000 miles to wintering grounds in Mexico.
On one of my walks in late summer this year, I watched for Monarchs — but knew I’d be lucky to spot one among the Queen Anne’s Lace and red clover. Today Monarchs are threatened by habitat loss, climate change, and herbicides and pesticides. We see this in Vermont, where the milkweed these butterflies rely upon for sustenance is often considered a weed, or plowed under where farmland has overcome natural meadows.
And then it was there — riding on the breeze, fluttering and landing on a clover, drinking nectar.
—Sarah Kaeck, Bee's Wrap founder
There’s no getting around it: Unless you’re a true minimalist, willing to sleep under the stars, camping requires a certain amount of stuff. There’s planning involved — packing lists and grocery lists, tents and gear and extra layers and boots. Getting there is half the battle, but it’s one that we gladly take on during Vermont summers and autumns. The preparation may be daunting, but the payoff is always sweet.
Here’s what camping doesn’t require: Trash.
At Bee’s Wrap we’re committed to reducing our dependence on single-use plastics, the disposable wares that are all too easy to use once and then toss aside. These end up in landfills and along roadways, in our water and our soil.
Planning ahead — and packing tools like Bee’s Wrap — can make a big difference in cutting back on disposables while traveling and camping. Bee's Wrap is easy to care for and travel with, making it an excellent choice for camping. Rinse your wraps in a river or under a spigot before heading home — or fold the mess up to contain it, and wash at home. Unlike bulkier containers, your wraps can fold down to the size of a handkerchief to tuck into your pack or camping kit.
We turned to a few experienced campers on staff here at Bee’s Wrap to learn more about how they cut down on trash and waste while camping. Looking to take Bee's Wrap on your next camping trip? Shop our zero-waste camping essentials collection.
Pack reusable containers, water bottles, and Bee’s Wrap for meals and on-the-go snacks.
We always make sure we have a few sturdy, reusable water bottles — we love our Klean Kanteens and Hydroflasks, but many brands make good options — in our backpacks and camping kits. We use smaller water bottles on day hikes and excursions, and larger containers to fill up on potable water at campsites.
Likewise, we pack plenty of Bee’s Wrap to both store ingredients in our camp cooler (it’s a great way to keep veggies and bread fresh for the duration of your long weekend trip!) and to pack snacks for adventures. Bee’s Wrap is also handy for wrapping up dirty utensils on the trail or while packing up at a campsite.
When in doubt, use a bread wrap.
Our biggest wraps are multitasking superstars on camping trips — serving as a clean space for prepping food or setting down utensils. Sometimes we like to snack our way through a weekend of camping instead of preparing elaborate meals, and our large bread wraps make it easy to cover a platter of chips, dips, veggies, and cheese.
Skip chemical fire starters for something more natural.
Did you know Bee’s Wrap makes an excellent fire starter? We give away scraps locally in Vermont for use as fire starters (swing by the shop if you’re in the neighborhood!), but you can also repurpose old, worn-out Bee’s Wrap for fire starters. The remaining wax in the wrap will burn for a long time, giving your kindling a chance to catch fire.
Wrap your soap and toothbrush in Bee’s Wrap.
Both at home and on the go, we prefer a bar of soap (and a shampoo bar!) to the excess packaging of liquid soaps and shampoo. Wrap your bar of soap in a small sheet of Bee’s Wrap to contain any slippery suds and drips. Likewise, wrapping a toothbrush in Bee’s Wrap keeps your toothbrush clean in your toiletry kit.
We choose to camp because we find solace and joy in nature. We enjoy good meals outside, cooked beside the campfire (where the added ingredients of fresh air and woodsmoke somehow elevate even the simplest meal to the highest of cuisines). And we celebrate the place we’re committed to protecting: the great outdoors. While fall is in the air here in Vermont, we’re taking every last chance we can to get outside and enjoy this place we call home.
When Kat Clear joined our team at Bee’s Wrap last winter, we were thrilled to welcome an enthusiastic, creative sales representative to the hive. The honey on the cake? Kat’s a new beekeeper — spreading the word about Bee’s Wrap by day, and tending her very own honey bees at home.
Kat and her husband Rolf live in nearby Ferrisburgh on a 25-acre homestead. They keep chickens, and garden extensively (Kat’s even opening up a farmstand down the road with a neighbor). It was gardening that initially prompted the pair’s curiosity about bees; they knew that bees are important pollinators, and they’d heard stories about the decline of the honeybee. They bought a book, attended a local beekeeping class, and last year installed their first hive.
This year, Kat and Rolf are keeping two hives — Italian honey bees bred in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. (Acquiring local “nucs” means the bees are bred to thrive in this particular environment, and supports the local economy.) Two hives are helpful for novice beekeepers, Kat says, because they provide a kind of reference for one another; if one hive is thriving and the other struggling, the beekeepers can investigate potential problems.
Kat’s intensely curious about bees — eager to tell us, her equally curious coworkers, about a queen sighting or a bee’s fuzzy back or (who knew?!) long tongue. (“Have you ever seen a bee tongue? Come to my house. I’ll show you one,” said Kat.) For Kat, beekeeping has been a grounding process, not unlike gardening, that is a tactile connection back to the earth.
“It’s all about the bees when you’re with them,” said Kat. “There’s no distraction, there’s no taking pictures. It’s about observation, and understanding, and taking care of them.”
She’s also inspired by the bees’ hard-working, community-minded ethic. “They’re individuals, but they’re all working towards a common goal,” she said. “They have this hive mind, and they’re all centered around this bigger thing.”
Kat’s also passionate about teaching others about bees. “It’s really exciting to me to get engaged with kids that are learning about pollination and how that works,” she said. She’s our point person with The Bee Cause, our nonprofit partner in sponsoring observation hives in local schools. She was on hand when our donated hive was installed at Cornwall’s Bingham Memorial School, and delights in watching kids react with fascination, rather than fear, to bees.
“You grow up running away from bees, swatting things not to sting you,” she said. “Don’t get me wrong, I back up all the time, I get nervous. But when you get a footstep past that, and can be there with them, they’re so beautiful.”
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!