Plastic wrapping is the key to convenience in our kitchens. Just think about it: leftover cold cuts, unused chunks of cheese, sliced fruits and veggies, and anything else we keep in a bowl in the fridge for later- we cover it all in plastic! For many of us this eco-“unfriendly” habit is unconscious, but there is a start-up from the West challenging this norm by trying to rid our kitchens of plastic wrappers. A married couple in Victoria, British-Columbia has taken on the challenge of innovating an all natural food wrapper and succeeded. In 2008, Abeego’s sustainability story began with its new product line that is reforming our daily use of plastic.
is the architect behind . She studied holistic nutrition, where her professional mind trained in Natural Nutrition kicked in to find a healthier alternative for food storage. After doing a quick search on the Internet, she found very little information regarding natural food wrappers and past food storage techniques in general. It was by attending museums and reading history books that led her to discovering a few accounts of cloth treated with beeswax to wrap meat or cheese. Like this, she inspired to innovative a product that would rid our kitchens of plastic!
The fabric used to create the wrappers is composed of certified organic hemp and cotton fabric. It is then covered and infused with beeswax, tree resin and jojoba oil. During the development phase, Toni found that using beeswax alone was too brittle so she added a little oil. She chose to use jojoba oil to give it flexibility and also because it is actually a liquid wax so it does not go rancid like regular oil would. Later, the final ingredient – resin – was added to the formula as an adhesive (resin was used in the past to “glue” arrowheads onto the end of spears). So following many trials and research, Toni confirmed that these three ingredients combine to equip her fabric with incredible benefits and functions. The result: Abeego is an all natural anti-fungal, antiseptic and antibacterial material that allows food to breathe properly.
Of course, the most important feature is that they are reusable and use renewable resources.
To clean the food wrappers, you only use cold water and eco-friendly soap. Using cold water will stiffen the beeswax coating, providing a stable surface to clean as if washing a plate and not a piece of fabric. If you maintain and clean them properly, they will last for a year! Since they are made from tissue, they will likely become discoloured by deeply pigmented stains, but let us be proud of their beautiful colors, which indicate the product’s long and useful life! Concern for aesthetics seems to be the primary issue to changing old habits. We are used to seeing transparent plastic and associate this with cleanliness and safety regarding food storage. The irony is, plastic creates 12 % of the average Canadian household waste and dirties our landfills by the masses. I think it’s time we see food “stains” as the art of cooking, especially when found on our food wrappers, don’t you?
As for product utility, Abeego-wrapped items (from meat and cheese, to fresh fruits and veggies) can be stored at room temperature, or in your refrigerator or freezer. The breathable Abeego material protects produce from bruising, but extends the life of fresh food, preserves its natural flavours and creates less waste. Put your hands on the wrapper, and the warmth derived from them will shape and mould the fabric. This means you can cover bowls, plates, or any food directly as you would with plastic wrapping. Once you remove your hands, the material will stiffen as soon as it cools down, holding its shape. It’s a truly impressive material!
Toni’s husband, Colin Johnston, is her right hand man and has handcrafted every Abeego wrap at the beginning of their start-up. Now the company has expanded with more employees and more than 83,417 Abeego sheets have been manufactured and developed in British-Columbia! Throughout the manufacturing process excess material sometimes arise in creating the food wrappers. A beautiful zero waste manufacturing policy has been implemented, and us bee-lovers can be assured not an ounce of beeswax-coated cloth is thrown out. Leftovers are actually reused into waste-generated resources such as business cards and Abeego Twisties called Abeebits (their version of a twist tie). They are also currently working on another waste generated resource to be launched soon. As for any small scraps unable to be reused, they are all biodegradable! This applies to Abeego wrappers as well. Once at the end of their lifecycle they are 100% compostable and eco-friendly.
Toni is someone who believes in nature and is happy to show us the wonders natural synergy and chemistry can do for us. Abeego is a small company but they are bumping plastic wrappers off the shelves of many, achieving its purpose exquisitely. It’s time for us to separate ourselves from our old and heavy relationship with plastic. And if you’re still sceptical, the Food and Drug Association have approved Abeego wrappers for food contact, confirming it as a safe alternative to plastic. We love them and use them in our own kitchen! If you wish to use them yourselves, check out our inventory here!